Bishop among the dozens killed in massacre

A bishop, a priest and several religious are among the 42 confirmed dead after a massacre in the Central African Republic town of Alindao.

The death toll is expected to rise as UN forces sift through the remains of a refugee camp which witnesses say was completely razed.

The attacks, said to be the work of Islamic militants, targeted the Catholic mission refugee centre and the town’s cathedral and Bishop’s residence.

Bishop Blaise Mada, vicar general of the diocese of Alindao, and the Rev. Celestine Ngoumbango, the parish priest of the village of Mingala, are among the dead.

According to witnesses, Mada was gunned down during an assault on the bishop’s residence where he had taken refuge with others attempting to escape the gunmen.

Father Mathieu Bondobo, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Bangui, says at the camp the attackers “started burning tents, killing, looting people’s property.”

It was there the charred remains of Ngoumbango were discovered.

Threats before the attack received by the Bishop of Alindao, Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, suggest the attacks may have been premeditated.

Bondobo says although Yapaupa notified UN peacekeepers of the threats, they did not defend the facilities or intervene.

“Everyone was left to their own devices [when the rebels attacked] and the rebels had time to do whatever they wanted. And they did,” Bondobo says.

The refugee centre, which has a capacity of 25,000, welcomes displaced people of all religions.

It was established to foster civil harmony.

The attack prompted the UN peacekeeping mission to send additional forces to the area to prevent further fighting between armed elements affiliated with the Christian anti-Balakas and the mainly-Muslim UPC Selekas.

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News category: World.

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