Congo: armed militia storm bishop's home

A group of unidentified gunmen forced their way into the home of Congolese Bishop Sylvestre Bali-Busane Bahati of the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu during the early hours of 9 April, looting property and leaving with money, clothes and electronic equipment.

The bishop was unharmed, but the gunmen tied up his eldest son, insisting they be directed to him, according to an e-mail sent from Bahati to church partners. The gunmen also assaulted the security man on duty. According to the e-mail, the gunmen said they had been paid US$20,000 to assassinate the Anglican Bishop of Bukavu Diocese.

When the bishop pleaded with the gunmen not to kill him, they requested money, which Bahati gave them, the e-mail said.

Bahati didn't disclose the amount in his e-mail, and couldn't be reached for further comment.

The Rev Jean-Paul Muhindo Matabaro, in an e-mail to church partners, said that Bahati isn't the first church leader to be targeted in this way. In November 2009, the Roman Catholic Church in Kabare lost a priest, a nun and two lay people in a similar attack, he said.

"Daily, there is mourning and sorrow in the communities of South Kivu and North Kivu provinces because of killings and looting," Matabaro said, noting that such attacks have resulted in the displacement of thousands of people.

Matabaro urged the local political authorities and the United Nations Mission in the Congo to find a way to ensure peace and security in the North and South Kivu provinces and throughout the whole country.

"We also request our brothers and sisters who read this sad news to pray for Bishop Bahati's family and the diocese of Bukavu who are often victims of atrocities from the militias,"  said Matabaro.

Bahati has served as the  Anglican bishop of Bukavu since December 2006.

Source: CISA

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