By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International
Montreal, September 17th, 2013 – Yesterday, the Italian Carmelite priest Aurelio Gazzera was threatened with a pistol and struck in the face by members of the Séléka rebel alliance, the missionary reports to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
The Carmelite priest, who has been working in the Central African Republic for twenty years, had visited a rebel base in order to obtain the release of prisoners and to protest against violent assaults, torture and murders. Already on his arrival at the base, rebels threatened to kill him, Gazzera reports.
“When I explained why I had come, the commander answered that they were soldiers and could do what they liked. At that moment, another of the leaders came into the room and screamed that he would kill me. I had no right to come and plead for the prisoners, he shouted. He threatened me with a pistol and hit me in the face,” the missionary reports.
Although the Séléka rebel alliance was officially disbanded last Friday (13.09) by President Djotodia, who came to power in a coup last March, there are still some 25,000 Séléka rebels in the country. “How long is this hell going to continue? No concrete steps are being taken that could lead to the rebels laying down their arms,” the missionary explains. Just a few days ago, heavy fighting broke out again in the north of the country, and in recent months there have been repeated attacks on churches, ecclesiastical institutions, priests and religious sisters.