Many Christians have died in the conflict in Central African Republic.
BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (BosNewsLife)-- Christians in Central African Republic feared more violence Thursday, January 30, following the reported killing of a prominent Baptist church official and his son by Muslim rebels.
Pastor Kongbo, treasurer of the Union des Eglises Baptistes (UEB), was killed Tuesday, January 28, along with his son at their home by the rebels, known as Seleka, as violence erupted in the northern suburbs of the country's capital Bangui, rights investigators said.
Two Seleka rebels were also reportedly killed by French troops following a battle between armed religious Christian militiamen, known as the anti-Balaka, and Seleka.
Peacekeepers escorted dozens of Seleka rebels from downtown military bases, in what observers said was the latest sign the fighters are losing their grip on the country following nearly a year of abuses.
The Seleka fighters were moved from military bases in the south of Bangui to a camp in the PK 11 area on the northern outskirts of the city. Christians cautioned however that Seleka fighters have not been disarmed, causing civilians in the area to seek refuge in the local church of Saint Charles de Louanda in PK 12 for fear of attack.
The group reportedly threatened retaliatory attacks against Christians in the northern towns of Ndélé, Bria and Birao in response to anti-Balaka attacks on Muslim communities.
The Seleka withdrawal has also raised fears of the possibility of a partitioning of the country along sectarian lines, according to rights groups.
Several Muslim and Christian leaders have appealed for calm.
"Every assistance must be given to Interim President Samba-Panza and interim Prime Minister Nazapayéké as they begin the monumental task of stabilizing the country," said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive group of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an advocacy group working in the area.
ONE MILLION DISPLACED
He said it was also crucial to support "restoring law and order, disarming the various militia groups, encouraging reconciliation and facilitating the return of one million displaced citizens to their homes."
Amid fears the violence still could degenerate into a genocide, the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, January 28, authorized the use of force by European Union troops to join 1,600 French and nearly 5,000 African peacekeepers.
Tuesday’s resolution also threatened sanctions against those violating human rights in the country.
The United States has warned of targeted sanctions against those working against peace in the country where more than 1,000 people, including many Christians, reportedly died in several days of sectarian fighting in December.