Violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to escalate as three more civilians were kidnapped by Anti-Balaka members.
According to reports, two cleHe works at CODIS, a diocesan service engaged in health care and education in CAR. The other kidnap victim was named as Claudia Priest, a 67-year old French aid worker who runs a charity organization.
The kidnapping took place at around 8 a.m. near a church in the 4th district of Bangui as they were returning from Damara, 70 km north of Bangui, in a car filled with medicine. They were accompanied by another man identified as Elkana.
Four armed men took all their personal belongings as well as the content of their vehicle. Elkana managed to escape while the two were taken to the Boy Rab area, which is an Anti-Balaka's stronghold.
The kidnapping is believed to have taken place as retribution for the arrest of Anti-Balaka leader Rodrigue Ngaïbona on Saturday. The UN peacekeeping captured Ngaibona who was accused of being the mastermind of the massacre of civilians particularly in Bangui in December 2013.
The kidnappers demand the release of their leader in exchange for the two victims.
The Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonne Nzapalainga and the President of Evangelical Alliance in CAR, Rev. Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou, are leading negotiations to free the two civilians, as well as secure the return of the vehicle and its contents.
It's not the first time the rebels kidnapped a member of the clergy. In October, members of the Democratic Front of Central African People abducted a Polish priest, Father Mateusz Dziedzic.
A day after the abduction of Priest and Gustave in Bangui, a female UN worker was kidnapped but was then subsequently released.