A church leader was among those killed in the recent outbreak of violence in the Central African Republic, it has emerged.
Baptist pastor Ange-Apoléon Ngakolada, 36, leaves behind a wife and eight children.
The President of the Association of Evangelical Baptist Churches in CAR, Singa Gbadia, told World Watch Monitor that Mr. Ngakolada had been targeted because local Muslims were unhappy about a church he’d recently had built.
“I cannot understand how a small group of people, in the tiny nation, bent on evil, continue to defy the collective will of the rest of the world for peace, represented by the United Nations. Surely, the UN ought to be a force for good and needs to stand up against the seeming triumph of evil forces around the world.”
— Rev. Aiah Foday-Khabenje
Apparently, Mr. Ngakolada had told Mr. Gbadia in a letter that Muslims opposed the church construction, but that he’d received permission from the rebel leader dominating the area at the time, Ali Ndarassa.
“The Muslims used the opportunity of the unrest in Alindao to murder him in his home,” a World Watch Monitor source reported.
The southern town of Alindao, which is 500km east of the capital, Bangui, has been one of the worst affected by the recent outbreak of violence. The UN recently estimated that 25,000 have been displaced in CAR since the beginning of May, including 8,500 in Alindao alone.
At least 37 people have been killed in Alindao, including the younger brother and nephew of Rev. Nicolas Guérékoyamé-Gbangou, who is head of the country’s Evangelical Alliance and has been recognised for his efforts, alongside another pastor and an imam, to broker peace.
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) recently named Rev. Guérékoyamé-Gbangou’s brother and nephew as Paul and Geoffry Zidoro.
The WEA’s Secretary General, Bishop Efraim Tendero, commented: “We are saddened beyond words about this senseless killing of family members of our dear friend Nicolas, who serves as an example of humility, sacrifice and persistence in pursuing peace.”
Rev. Aiah Foday-Khabenje, General Secretary of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, added: “Saddened and shocked at the news of this targeted fatal attack on religious leaders, who have demonstrated courage and brought hope to their people in CAR. Pray for God’s grace and comfort for the family. I cannot understand how a small group of people, in the tiny nation, bent on evil, continue to defy the collective will of the rest of the world for peace, represented by the United Nations. Surely, the UN ought to be a force for good and needs to stand up against the seeming triumph of evil forces around the world.”
The commander in charge of the UN’s peacekeeping force in CAR, Lt. Gen Balla Keita, told the Associated Press that “the whole country is in turmoil again” and that the 12,000 troops at his disposal are insufficient.
“If we want to be successful, really we need some additional capacity,” he said.
The UN’s troops are “stretched too thin to respond to all of the hotspots right now, including in the southeast,” Evan Cinq-Mars, UN advocate and policy adviser at the not-for-profit Center for Civilians in Conflict, added. “There needs to be a serious discussion about how to reinforce the UN mission, given the precarious dynamics gripping CAR right now.”
CAR’s armed forces, or FACA, boast just 7,500 troops and are “poorly armed and trained”, according to the Associated Press. Soldiers from the EU are said to be helping to train them but the brigadier general in charge of the training, Herman Ruys, said: “We are trying to make an army and an army takes years in order to form.”