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A Methodist church burned in Nzérékoré
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Judicial authorities in Guinea are investigating a series of violent outbursts that left 95 people dead and 130 wounded. Since the murder of a suspected thief on July 14th in Koulé, a town located 40 kilometres from Nzérékoré (the second largest city of Guinea), angry clashes have ensued between members of Guerzé and Konianké ethnic groups. In the city of Nzérékoré, about five churches, four pastors' homes, and an undetermined number of shops and properties were burned or looted.

The violence has been particularly intense in Beyla city, 150 kilometres northeast of Nzérékoré. Describing the scene, a local priest identified as Father Joseph says, "Almost all the houses and shops belonging to Christians, or people affiliated with Christians, have not escaped the fury of attackers." In Beyla alone, two churches were burned and several buildings were ransacked. Within a Catholic compound, assailants looted and burned the nuns' quarters, the presbytery, and most of the offices.

Similar acts of violence were reported in the neighbouring city of Moribadou, home to workers for the mining giant Rio Tinto, and also in the city of Sinko. About 10 churches were destroyed in that outbreak of violence, which lasted nearly three days. Throughout the region, a number of people are still missing. Churches and local NGOs are trying to reunite families. Some Christian families have found refuge in military camps and surrounding villages.

World Watch Monitor warns that Islamic fundamentalism is increasing in southeastern Guinea. The organization claims that the violence perpetrated in this part of the country has strong religious dimensions. In the nation of 10 million people, 85 percent of the population is Muslim. Christians represent only 4 percent of the overall population.

Pray that God will bring great peace and comfort to the troubled hearts of His children in Guinea, at the same time, drawing them closer to Himself and reassuring them of His unfailing presence. May the displaced members clearly sense His leading as He carefully guides them into safe areas of refuge and reunites them with their missing loved ones. In addition to providing for all of their physical needs, may He bring total restoration and healing to shattered lives, families and communities. This, of course, includes His work of salvation in the hearts of those instigating the violence.