Congo: murdered priest was victim of targetted killing

The funeral of  Fr Christian Mbusa Bakulene was held today.  He was buried in the cemetery of the diocesan priests of the Diocese of Butembo-Beni, in Musienene.

New details are emerging about the killing of the 42-year-old parish priest of Saint Jean-Baptiste de Kanyabayonga, south of Butembo, in the territory of Lubero, in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the late afternoon of November 8, Fr Bakulene was returning to the parish with a friend, carrying some Bibles that he had brought from another parish. On the way back, the motorcycle the priest was traveling on, with his companion, was stopped by an armed man in military uniform. Before asking for money, the man asked: "Which of you is the pastor?" Fr. Bakulene replied, "I am."After taking money from the priest's companion, the gunman fired several shots at Fr Bakulene, killing him. Before stopping Bakulene's motorcycle, the murderer had stopped other motorcycles, whose occupants had been made the same question: "Are you a priest?". It was therefore a targeted killing, disguised as a street robbery degenerated into murder.

The murder of the pastor in Kanyabayonga has aroused deep emotion and protests from the people he served. The killing took place not far from a base of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and the local population has long complained of the grave insecurity, which they say is linked to the fact that Congolese soldiers sent into the area are former rebels from the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), which after a peace deal with Kinshasa were integrated into the regular armed forces. According to local civil society, in reality this integration has allowed the rebels to continue to prey upon the population of the area with impunity, wearing the uniforms of the national army.

In some areas of the territory of Lubero, the people staged protests to demand the withdrawal of the army from the area. The police station was ransacked in Mighobwe and in Kaina, not far from the site of the murder of Fr Bakulene, the population has decreed a day of mourning.

Fr Christian Mbusa Bakulene was born in Mundiba-Maboya on January 19, 1968. Ordained on August 21, 1998, he was appointed Pastor of Saint Jean-Baptiste de Kanyabayonga last September.

Source: Fides

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