A bishop in the Central African Republic has said that he and three parish priests narrowly escaped being executed by Islamist rebels, reports the Catholic News Agency.
Bishop Nestor Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa said he and the priests were abducted during a parish visit. 'I was taken to the colonel, who accused me of ruining his plan to regain Bossangoa and putting defamatory statements against him on the internet,' he told the Vatican’s Fides news agency.
'The rebels removed my pectoral cross and episcopal ring. Then my three priests and I were brought to Sidot to be killed… But our convoy was stopped thanks to intervention by the international community and the commander of the local military area of Seleka, a general, who did not agree with the execution order,' the Bishop said.
Their abduction came a week after a priest was shot dead in the town. Fr Christ Forman Wilibona was killed by Seleka militants in Bossangoa on Good Friday.
Thousands of people have died and up to 1.5 million people have been displaced by violence since December 2012 when Arab-speaking Islamists, known as Seleka, began an offensive that resulted in the toppling of the government of president François Bozizé.
Kim Pozniak of Catholic Relief Services, the aid agency of the US bishops’ conference, said she feared the planned deployment of 12,000 United Nations peacekeepers in September would be too late to safeguard the Central African Republic’s crucial planting and harvest seasons.
Photo: A displaced boy holds a child as he sits on a bench on a 40-acre diocesan compound in Bossangoa.
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