How's that "dialogue" working out for you, Bishop?
Judicial authorities in Guinea are investigating an outburst of deadly violence two weeks ago that left 95 people dead and 130 wounded. The murder of a suspected thief on July 14 in Koulé, a city 40 kilometres from Nzérékoré, the regional capital of Forested Guinea, has led to acts of retaliation and a wave of violence between members of Guerzé and Konianké ethnic groups.
Very quickly, the incidents became a sectarian conflict between Christians and Muslims, with the destruction of a number of Christians’ properties, including several churches.
In Nzérékoré, about five churches, four houses of pastors, and an undetermined number of shops and properties were burned or looted, witnesses told World Watch Monitor. A mosque was also reported burned and one Muslim cleric killed. In Beyla city, 150 kilometres northeast of Nzérékoré, attacks targeting Christians were particularly violent, according to a Catholic priest contacted by World Watch Monitor.
“The two Catholic and Protestant churches have all been ransacked and burned,” said the priest, identified as Fr. Joseph. “Almost all the houses and shops belonging to Christians or people affiliated with Christians, have not escaped the fury of attackers.''
The offices and other buildings within the Catholic compound, including the Presbyter and the nuns’ quarters, were looted or burned.
Elsewhere in Beyla, the Center for Youth Development, an internet café, a conference room, a library and a primary school were ransacked.
The priest said a physician and Beyla’s regional deputy of health services, Dr. Tolon Loua, was killed during the violence.
''He was inside of his house when the assailants arrived and set it on fire,” he said. “Badly burned, he was transported to the hospital where he was later declared dead.''
An undetermined number of people remain missing. Several Christian families found refuge in military camps and surrounding villages. Churches and local NGOs are trying to place them with other families.
Similar acts of violence were reported in the neighbouring city of Moribadou, home to workers for the mining giant Rio Tinto, and in the city of Sinko. In total, some 10 churches were destroyed in that violence, which lasted nearly three days.
The violence has a strong religious dimension, said David Foromo Guilavogui, Secretary General of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Guinea. Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in southeastern Guinea, he told World Watch Monitor.
The inhabitants of Forested Guinea are mainly Christians or animists. Of the country’s 10 million people, 85 per cent are Muslim. Christians represent 4 per cent and animists 11 per cent.
A number of Islamic fundamentalist groups are established in the southeast region, particularly in Beyla, a city perceived as a centre of Islam in Guinea. Beyla was one of the main cites of Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state founded in the 17th century by Samori Touré, a military and political leader known for his opposition to the French colonial occupation. Today the city is 99 per cent Muslim, and Christians are a tiny minority of workers.
“These incidents have served as a pretext for Islamist groups to assert their opposition to the Christian presence,” Guilavogui said....