OXFORD, England, June 19, 2013–The head of the Catholic Church in Niger warned that much of Africa’s Sahel region is facing a “coordinated Islamist campaign” that is leaving Christian communities “living in anxiety and fear.”
Archbishop Michel Cartateguy of Niamey said attacks by Islamist rebels have been limited to non-religious targets, but that the well-coordinated actions are sending clear messages to non-Muslims.
“It’s clear these actions are all closely organized. Strong links already exist between Islamist groups in several countries and a network is forming,” the archbishop said.
“We thought the Islamists had been dispersed earlier this year in northern Mali. But they merely regrouped in southern Libya and intervened elsewhere,” he said following the June 9 episcopal ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Djalwana Laurent Lompo, the country’s first Niger-born bishop.
The ordination went forward amid fears of a pending attack by the rebels. A member of the Society of African Missions, Archbishop Cartateguy told Catholic News Service June 18 that he had requested an auxiliary because he is unable to visit parts of Niger out of fear of being abducted as a French national. (CNS)