Central African priest killed by rebels
Rebels linked to an October coup attempt were blamed for murdering a priest in cold blood last week in the Central African Republic.
Fr Jean Claude Kilamong, about 40, was found dead eight days ago. A day earlier he was being held by armed men who have controlled the city for over a month, sources told the MISNA missionary agency. His funeral was held last Tuesday in the local cathedral at Bossangoa.
Rebels have ransacked the hospital and destroyed the surgery area. Virtually all the clergy have left Bossangoa, a city about 300 km north of the capital. Thousands of civilians have also fled.
The religious who have remained have taken cover in the minor seminary, fearing further violence. MISNA reports there is great concern for the city's Franciscan community, where five European Capuchin missionaries are virtual hostages of the militiamen.
Another Franciscan community, near Bossangoa, was attacked two weeks ago by the same rebels. Three missionaries were beaten and threatened with death. They eventually managed to flee to nearby Bangui.
On 30 October, the Vatican appealed to the international community to help foster peace in this coup-prone country. John Paul II made an appeal back in June calling for an end to bloodshed in the former French colony of 3.6 million people.
The rebels who tried to oust President Ange-Félix Patassé last October were led by a former Chief of Staff, General François Bozize.
Central African Republic (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Central African Republic (World Fact Book)
17 Dec 2002