Roman Catholic Pope Francis, who is on a historic tour to Africa, has visited a mosque on Monday in the PK5 district, a very dangerous area of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), amid a heavily-armed deployment of UN peacekeepers, various media reports said.
The South American-born pontiff, who told Muslim worshippers that Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters, made an impassioned plea to both fighting sides to end all acts of violence and turn their back on revenge and hatred.
PK5, a once bustling neighbourhood, now looks more like a ghost town as over 100 000 Muslims left the capital. But some 15 000 are believed to still live there, Human Rights Watch said.
CAR, a diamond-rich Central African nation neighbour of DRC, Cameroon and Chad, descended into a massive political instability and deadly sectarian fighting in early 2013.
Several attempts to reconcile the foes, the Anti-Balaka (Christians) and the Seleka (Muslims) have all but failed, and tension is still rising amid intense preparations of general elections set for December.
However, it remains unclear whether the pope’s visit to this war-hit nation will have any positive impact on long lasting peace and reconciliation.
Photo: Pope Francis visits a mosque in CAR capital Bangui. Credit: AFP