A displaced boy runs past a mural on a building in the 40-acre diocesan compound in Bossangoa, Central African Republic.

CNS PHOTO | JOE PENNEY, REUTERS

A displaced boy runs past a mural on a building in the 40-acre diocesan compound in Bossangoa, Central African Republic.

December 9, 2013
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

More than 35,000 people are living on the 40-acre diocesan compound in Bossangoa, Central African Republic, seeking protection from rebels who are targeting Christians, said the local bishop.

Bishop Nestor-Desire Nongo Aziagbia of Bossangoa told Catholic News Service he closed the minor seminary, which is now used as a shelter, and the pastoral centre has been destroyed.

The people began coming Sept. 8 to escape attacks by rebels of the Seleka alliance.

The rebels are predominantly Muslim; Central African Republic is about 85 per cent Christian and 12 per cent Muslim.

Most of the people in the diocesan compound are women and children, Nongo said. To protect their families, the men do not stay, fearing they will attract rebel soldiers, who will kill them.