Pope Francis on Wednesday denounced
“shameful” attacks on Christians in Nigeria and
the Central African Republic (CAR), calling for
an end to “all hate and violence”.
“I have been profoundly saddened by the
massacre last Sunday in Nigeria, inside a
church, where innocent people were killed,”
the pontiff said at the end of his weekly public
audience at the Vatican.

“And sadly this morning we have news of
violence in the Central African Republic against
Christian communities.
“I hope all forms of hate and violence will
cease and such shameful crimes in places of
worship, where the faithful are gathered to
pray, will not be repeated,” he added.
At least 11 worshippers were gunned down at a
church in southeast Nigeria on Sunday, with
authorities suggesting the bloodshed was due
to a local feud.
Attacks on churches are rare in southern
Nigeria, where there is a predominantly
Christian population.

The country’s mainly-Muslim north has been
gripped by a violent campaign by Boko Haram
jihadists, who specialise in targeting religious
centres.
The violent campaign to impose strict Islamic
law has killed at least 20,000 people and forced
some 2.6 million others to flee their homes,
sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the
northeast.

In the Central African Republic, reports of
killings, some targeting aid workers have
prompted the UN to warn of “early signs of a
genocide” in the conflict-wracked nation.
At least 60 people have been killed in recent
weeks in fighting between armed groups in
Ngaoundaye and Batangafo in the north, Kaga-
Bandoro in the centre and Alindao and Gambo
to the south, witnesses have told AFP.

The fighting is largely between groups on
opposing sides of the brutal conflict between
Muslim and Christian militias that broke out in
CAR in 2013 after President Francois Bozize
was overthrown by a coalition of Muslim-
majority rebel groups called the Seleka.


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