- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Islamist rebels held a priest and a deacon hostage at a Sacred Heart Fathers’ mission station in the Central African Republic on Friday, the Scottish Catholic Observer reported.

Missionary Fr Beniamino Gusmeroli and Deacon Martial Mengue were threatened by five armed men, believed to be Sudanese, who tied up the clerics and gagged them, the report said.

The men looted the mission station, in Bouar, taking money, cameras and computers. The attackers kidnapped Deacon Mengue, but released him hours later.

Sources in the country said mission stations and church-owned buildings are often targeted by Séléka rebels.

“Central Africa is one of the subjects presently under discussion at the UN General Assembly,” said Italian Carmelite priest, Fr Aurelio Gazzera, who works in Bozoum. “We hope that it will bring concrete results, because the situation is continuing to deteriorate. As well as the fighting that took place in recent weeks in Bossangoa and drove 30,000 people to flight, last week the Séléka rebels killed two people and burned down 206 houses in the village of Herba, which lies 70 kilometers [44 miles] from the road to Bocaranga.”

According to the United Nations, 400,000 of the Central African Republic’s population of 5 million have fled their homes, the Scottish Catholic Observer said.

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