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Prominent Christian Pastor in Central African Republic Narrowly Escapes Assassination Attempt by Muslim Mob Brandishing Machetes

( [email protected] ) Oct 12, 2015 02:41 PM EDT
A prominent Christian pastor in the Central African Republic has narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after a mob of angry Muslims stormed his house, branding machetes and automatic weapons.
Rev. Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, President of CAR's Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors USA

A prominent Christian pastor in the Central African Republic has narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after a mob of angry Muslims stormed his house, branding machetes and automatic weapons.

According to a report from persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, Rev. Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, President of CAR's Evangelical Alliance, was targeted in an attack apparently triggered by the death of a young Muslim motorbike taxi driver in the capital city of Bangui.

The report notes that the young man's body was found in the predominantly Christian 5th district on Saturday, 26 September, then taken to a mosque in the 3rd district, known also as Km5, which is a "no-go zone" for all non-Muslims.

Angered by the young man's death, the Muslim youths left the 3rd district and poured into the Elim Church compound in the 5th district, where Rev. Guerekoyame-Gbangou's house was located. Brandishing automatic weapons and machetes, the mob demanded to know the pastor's whereabouts.

However, by the grace of God, Rev. Guerekoyame-Gbangou had left his house just thirty minutes prior.

"The assailants asked for 'pastor Nicolas, who is pro-peace ... but who always attacks us'. But they learned that I had already left the house," he told the World Watch Monitor.

"They then told my family to leave the property. One of the assailants brandished a knife and threatened to kill my older son, but another assailant prevented him from doing it."

The angry mob then looted all valuable items and then set fire to the house. Before returning to their district, the group also ransacked other buildings in the compound, setting fire to them, and shooting randomly.

"Unfortunately they killed two people before leaving the compound", said Rev. Guerekoyame-Gbangou, revealing that his family was miraculously unharmed. "The victims, who had their throats cut, were displaced people who had sought refuge within our compound."

According to the AP, sectarian violence has plagued the mostly Christian nation since Muslim Seleka rebels briefly seized power in March 2013, and left some 2.7 million people - more than half the population - in urgent need of aid.

The latest violence, the worst in the capital this year, has killed more than 60 people, injured around 300 and displaced almost 40,000 in Bangui, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

While condemning the ongoing violence in the region, Rev. Guerekoyame-Gbangou said that the attack that targeted him will not diminish his commitment to peace in CAR. "Any commitment has a price. As a pastor and ambassador of peace, I cannot focus on my interests as a person, or my family," he said. "The interest of the Central African people is the most important, provided that we are successful in our mission to reconcile the Central Africans and bring peace."