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Bible Translator Gunned Down While Trying to Protect His Family in War-Torn African Country


"Reprisals against Christians in particular ... are of great concern."

A Bible translator was tragically gunned down in the Central African Republic, where he was working with ACATBA, a biblical literacy organization that partners with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Elisée Zama was reportedly shot and killed last week while trying to bring his family to safety amid ongoing violence in the city of Bangui, according to a press release put out by Wycliffe.

Zama left behind a wife and three children.

Displaced Christians set up camp in Bangui's monastery, where over 10,000 found refuge in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday Dec. 8, 2013. (Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

"Please continue to pray for safety and an end to the violence which has shaken so many communities over the last days," said Larry Robbins, a coordinator with SIL, another Wycliffe affiliate.

According to the ACATBA website, Zama is the second of the group's translators to die in the Central African Republic in the past two months; the first translator's name was not given.

The situation in the Central African Republic, a nation in central Africa, continues to be dire. Following a coup in March by a coalition of mostly Islamic rebel groups known as Seleka, the political situation has been chaotic and unpredictable.

"Reprisals against Christians in particular in Bangui are of great concern," Robbins said. "There have been ... reprisals in certain neighborhoods of Bangui, resulting in thousands seeking refuge on the airstrip of the international airport."

ACATBA's statement on Friday further described the horrific conditions.

Seleka forces drive by a French patrol in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday Dec. 8, 2013. (Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

"This morning the fighting ceased, with the attackers having pulled back from the city," noted the group's director. "Now pillaging and executions are happening. Everyone is staying in their homes in fear of being the next victim. ... There is only the Lord on whom we can depend, thanks to your incessant prayers."

The Telegraph recently reported that the Seleka are unpaid fighters, detailing the violence and force they use to gain compensation by looting the population -- mainly Christians, who make up the largest proportion of religious adherence in the country.

Zama's death comes as French soldiers are working to disarm militias in the Central African Republic. Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, has been the nation's president since the March coup.

"The French were sent into the CAR on Friday after the UN Security Council backed a mandate to restore order "by all necessary measures" the previous evening," the BBC reported on Monday. "The UN resolution followed a surge of violence involving Christian self-defense militias that had sprung up after a series of attacks by mainly Muslim fighters from the disbanded Seleka rebel forces."

(H/T: Crossmap)


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