Pope arrives in CAR as 'pilgrim of peace'

Tight security surrounds Pope Francis' visit to conflict-hit country

Pope arrives in CAR as 'pilgrim of peace'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Pope Francis has arrived in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), on the last leg of his African tour, emphasizing the need for peace in the conflict-hit country.

"I come to the Central African Republic as a pilgrim of peace and as an apostle of hope," the Pope tweeted on Sunday.

Ongoing violence between Christian and Muslim groups has unsettled the capital city and more than one million people have had to flee from their homes since 2013.

The Pope met CAR president, Catherine Samba-Panza.

This visit comes as part of an African tour that started on Wednesday in Kenya and Uganda.

The security situation has deteriorated sharply in CAR since September, after months of uneasy calm. Renewed violence is the result of inter-communal clashes between two armed groups, ex-Seleka, (predominantly Muslim) and Anti-Balaka, (predominantly Christian).

In May of this year, following months of deadly violence, both groups agreed to lay down their arms. However, fresh violence erupted last month.

One Christian official in the government, who requested to remain anonymous, told Anadolu Agency that he was "satisfied" with the pontiff’s visit.

"A lot of people warned the Pope, to dissuade him from coming here, but he insisted ... This is a strong gesture and a very important [gesture of] support for us as Central Africans," the same source said.

Peacekeepers and members of the French military have been deployed to guard the head of the world’s estimated one billion Catholics.

Thousands of Christians have also arrived in Bangui from neighboring countries, including Chad and Cameroon, to see Pope Francis.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Kasım 2015, 16:08