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Christian Radio Station Falls Prey to Looters in Central African Republic Coup

HCJB Global Partner Station Crippled During Desperation of Nation without Order

Contact: Steve Johnson, 719-388-2281, sjohnson@hcjb.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., March 28, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- An HCJB Global partner radio station in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), has been overrun by looters following a weekend coup. As rebels and gunmen roam the streets, the station operated by ICDI has been stripped of equipment essential to continue operation.

Photo: Staff members work on producing a radio program at ICDI's sound room in Boali, about 65 miles outside of the capital. Left to right: Matongo Bienvenu (deejay), Samuel (lead person) and Boniface (technician).

"We are grateful to learn that all of the ICDI staff from the station are safe," said Wayne Pederson, president and CEO of HCJB Global. "However, there is much distress among our personnel, not only for the destruction of the station in which they have invested their lives, but also for the people of Central African Republic, who have been thrown into disorder."

About 5,000 Seleka rebel fighters poured into the capital city of Bangui Sunday, March 24, ousting President Francois Bozie and setting up their own self-proclaimed president. In the ensuing chaos, looters and armed rebels took to the streets. 

As the nation struggles to restore order, throngs of the 600,000 population who had exhausted food and supplies during the takeover flocked to the markets on Tuesday. In the face of sporadic gunfire, many claimed desperation and turned to open looting.

Some equipment of the HCJB Global partner station had been moved to the ministry's offices in Bangui for protection after the fighting began. However, as the conflict escalated, local staff members were forced to abandon the compound. Looters confiscated what they could and damaged much of the rest.

The looting of the station's computer and soundboard has put the station off the air. In addition, three of the mission's vehicles were stolen. Alexandre Pembi, who has served the mission for many years, returned to challenge the looters without success and narrowly escaped harm. No radio personnel can take action currently because it is unsafe for anyone to be out in public.

A humanitarian crisis is feared in the wake of disorder, lack of power and looting. Pederson called for prayer for the safety of the ICDI and HCJB Global staff during the volatility. 

"In their time of desperation, the people of CAR need the message of hope broadcast on their radios," he said. "Pray that we will soon be delivering that message again."

To learn more about HCJB Global or to contribute to the crippled radio station in Bangui, visit www.hcjbglobal.org.

For 80 years the passion of HCJB Global (www.hcjbglobal.org) has been to make disciples of Christ. Using mass media, healthcare and education, and working with partners around the world, HCJB Global has ministries in more than 100 countries. The gospel is aired in more than 120 languages and dialects. Thousands of healthcare patients are meeting Jesus. Local believers are being trained as missionaries, pastors, broadcasters and healthcare providers.

To schedule an interview with a key leader from HCJB Global, contact Communications Director Steve Johnson at 719-388-2281 or sjohnson@hcjb.org.