In what the local vicar general called acts of “barbarism,” a priest and a nun have been killed in two separate attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fr. Father Daniel Cizimya Nakamaga, 51, was shot in the head early Sunday when gunmen broke into the presbytery of Kabare, several miles outside the eastern city of Bukavu.
Two days later attackers struck a Trappist monastery just north of Bukavu, killing Sr. Denise Kahambu.
A third person died when police trying to catch the killers fired upon a car containing three possible suspects driving through the area late at night. Two of the suspects in the vehicle were able to escape.
Violence and tensions have increased in the region. The violence is in part directed at Christians, Aid to the Church in Need reports.
Msgr. Pierre Bulambo, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Bukavu, said the archdiocese has fallen victim to “an act of barbarism.”
“The people have been traumatized and are very afraid. The Congolese are fed up of crying and dying,” he told ACN.
The vicar general said that men had stormed Fr. Cizimya’s rectory in Kabare and smashed a window to get inside. They moved towards the priest’s room but when he tried to close the door to keep them out they fired two shots at his head, killing him instantly.
“We admire the bravery and compassion of the people of Kabare in support of their departed priest. How they have responded is an example to everyone,” Msgr. Bulambo said.
Fr. Bunyakiri Crispin, the rector of St. Pius X Seminary in Murhesa, filled in ACN on the murder of Sr. Denise at the Trappist monastery.
Sr. Denise, guest mistress at the monastery, was suddenly confronted by three strangers. She tried to escape but was shot dead. Her body was discovered “lying in a pool of blood.”
“A woman who was one of the guests said she heard shouting and then saw an armed man running towards her but she shut herself in her room,” Fr. Crispin said.
Another woman who works at the monastery said attackers demanded money from her. When she refused they fired a gun at her but missed.
The rest of the nuns took shelter in the monastery dormitory and sat on the floor in case shots were fired through the windows.
“The whole time, the Sisters prayed the rosary and sang Psalm 129, the De Profundis, for Sr. Denise and the whole community,” Fr. Crispin reported.
According to ACN, Msgr. Bulambo said police were continuing their inquiries. He hinted at possible collusion between security staff officials and the attackers.
The attack on the Trappist nuns was the fourth since 1996.
The vicar general said the incidents were the latest in a series of attacks on Church communities in the Bukavu area.
Two months ago two priest in Ciherano were “imprisoned like rats” by attackers who set fire to their presbytery. Days later a group of students was robed and burglars struck a hospital in Mukongola.