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Central African Republic: prelate distributes food as violence continues

Catholic World News - December 13, 2013

Amid continued violence in the Central African Republic, the 40,000 people who had taken refuge at the Catholic mission in Bossangoa, a city of 35,000 in the western part of the nation, welcomed the arrival of French peacekeeping troops, Caritas Internationalis reported.

“It came as a huge relief,” said Father Alain Eouanzoui, the local diocese’s vicar general. “We believe the nightmare might soon be over.”

Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Central African Republic’s leading prelate, distributed food throughout Bangui, the nation’s capital, and prayed with victims of the violence.

Members of the Séléka rebel coalition assumed power in the nation in March, and “embarked on months of looting, raping and killing,” as the Reuters news agency reported. Islamist Séléka members, some of them foreigners, have been attacking Christian institutions, raising fears of genocide.

The new president, Michel Djotodia, says he cannot control his former allies. Militias loyal to ousted President François Bozizé, along with citizens defending themselves against Séléka, have been fighting back. The Associated Press reported that “people on both sides have carried out retaliatory violence,” and that in Bangui, some Muslims have been seeking refuge in churches.

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