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Rev. Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou
Photo: World Watch Monitor

A prominent religious leader, who has received global acclaim for his efforts to end conflict, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by militant Muslims who later killed two other people, destroyed property, and stole possessions during their attack of a predominantly Christian district. On the morning of Saturday, September 26th, in the capital city of Bangui, angry Muslims from an area that's considered a stronghold for Séléka rebels and an unofficial "no-go zone" for non-Muslims, headed into the Christian district in search of Rev. Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, the president of CAR's Evangelical Alliance.

Rev. Nicolas reports what took place that morning at his home, which is located within the Elim Church compound: "The assailants asked for 'Pastor Nicolas, who is pro-peace....'" After being informed about the reverend's absence, they ordered his 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," he reports of the horrible ordeal. The mob then looted and burned the reverend's home and other buildings within the compound, firing shots sporadically at bystanders. "Unfortunately, they killed two people before leaving the compound," he continues. "The victims, who had their throats cut, were displaced people who had sought refuge within our compound." Since this brutal incident, the church leader's family has found refuge in an undisclosed location.

The violence on September 26th is believed to be the worst the capital has faced this year. Early that afternoon, anti-balaka (anti-machete) militants retaliated against the Séléka rebels, resulting in more brutal injuries and deaths within the district. Witnesses report that people were slaughtered or shot at close range; corpses littered the streets or were thrown into wells. Homes and places of worship were ransacked and burned. The violence continued late into the night, in spite of curfews set by authorities. Weapon detonations and gunshots could still be heard the following day. Concerned by the violence, President Samba-Panza left the UN General Assembly to return to CAR. According to a UN report, at least 40 people died in the clashes and about 30,000 have fled since Saturday. The violence has also caused the CAR president to cancel the October elections.

Throughout this volatile time in the Central African Republic, we ask the Lord to strengthen and protect Rev. Nicolas and his family, as well as the numerous other believers who are at risk within this troubled country. In addition, pray for the ministry of God's Spirit to be upon the families and friends who've lost loved ones in the recent attacks, bringing each of them needed comfort, peace, and the strength to carry on. May those who have fled the area in search of safety follow God's guidance, being mindful to give Him thanks as He meets their daily needs. We also ask the Lord to ultimately calm the violence by touching the hearts of the militants and leading them to repentance and salvation.