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Priests attempt to save Muslims from slaughter in Central African Republic

Catholic World News - February 13, 2014

Priests in the Central African Republic have recently attempted to save Muslims from slaughter at the hands of Anti-balaka militia forces, according to new reports from the Voice of America and Human Rights Watch.

The atrocities committed by Anti-balaka forces follow in the wake of similar actions committed by the Islamist Séléka forces that helped bring Michel Djotodia to power in March 2013.

“The widespread atrocities committed over the past 10 months by the mostly Muslim Séléka rebel group are at the root of the current violence in the Central African Republic,” Human Rights Watch reported. Séléka “carried out a campaign of executions, indiscriminate killings, village burnings, and rape that plunged the country into chaos and displaced nearly a quarter of the country's majority Christian population.”

Following the arrival of French and African Union troops, Djotodia resigned and went into exile in January, and Séléka fighters retreated to bases. Anti-balaka, originally a network of self-defense militias, has been taking vengeance upon Muslims.

In Boali, a town of 9,000 in the southwestern part of the nation, 500 Muslims are now living at the Catholic parish, according to Voice of America News.

“I didn't have a plan,” said Father Xavier-Arnaud Fagba. “I was just thinking here are brothers in difficulty. They needed help. I went [door to door] to get them as a pastor and as a Christian. I did it in the name of my faith.”

In Boda, a town in the southwestern portion of the nation, “the local Catholic priest also attempted to prevent an attack on the Muslim community,” according to Human Rights Watch.

The nation’s leading prelate has denounced Anti-balaka’s activities and has made clear that it is not Christian, even though it is often described as Christian in Western media reports. In addition, the nation’s bishops have urged Christians not to take revenge upon Muslims.

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