Christian radio station looted in Central African Republic

An HCJB Global partner radio station in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), has been overrun by looters following a weekend coup. As rebels and gunmen roam the streets, the station operated by ICDI has been stripped of equipment essential to continue operation.

"We are grateful to learn that all of the ICDI staff from the station are safe," said Wayne Pederson, president and CEO of HCJB Global. "However, there is much distress among our personnel, not only for the destruction of the station in which they have invested their lives, but also for the people of Central African Republic, who have been thrown into disorder."

About 5,000 Seleka rebel fighters poured into the capital city of Bangui Sunday, March 24, ousting President Francois Bozie and setting up their own self-proclaimed president. In the ensuing chaos, looters and armed rebels took to the streets.

As the nation struggles to restore order, throngs of the 600,000 population who had exhausted food and supplies during the takeover flocked to the markets on Tuesday. In the face of sporadic gunfire, many claimed desperation and turned to open looting.

Some equipment of the HCJB Global partner station had been moved to the ministry's offices in Bangui for protection after the fighting began. However, as the conflict escalated, local staff members were forced to abandon the compound. Looters confiscated what they could and damaged much of the rest.

The looting of the station's computer and soundboard has put the station off the air. In addition, three of the mission's vehicles were stolen. Alexandre Pembi, who has served the mission for many years, returned to challenge the looters without success and narrowly escaped harm. No radio personnel can take action currently because it is unsafe for anyone to be out in public.

A humanitarian crisis is feared in the wake of disorder, lack of power and looting. Pederson called for prayer for the safety of the ICDI and HCJB Global staff during the volatility.

"In their time of desperation, the people of CAR need the message of hope broadcast on their radios," he said. "Pray that we will soon be delivering that message again."

Source: Christian Newswire