When terrified mother Fatimatu Yamsa ran with her family, including eight-month-old baby girl Shamsia, she never expected that the family will be all killed by Christian militias except for the baby girl.
Publish date : Monday 10 March 2014 14:45Code: 154064
“It was a miracle she survived,” Aalaji Yamsa, Shamsia’s uncle, told The Washington Post on Sunday, March 9.
The plight of the family dated back to January 14 when they tried to flee atrocities against Muslims in the capital, a truck carrying Muslims and Christian refugees was stopped by the anti-balaka Christian militia.
While Muslims were asked to get out, Shamsia’s mother appealed to a Christian woman to take the baby and pretend it was hers.
Before descending from the truck the frightened mom, Fatimatu Yamsa, whispered to Christian woman: “Find my brother-in-law in the next town and give the infant to him.”
Muslims were taken to a ransacked mosque where they were looted and hacked to death by the Christian militia who dumped the corpses in a mass grave.
“They were all killed in front of the mosque,” said Serge Gougodou, a farmer who witnessed the massacre.
Along with Shamsia’s mother, two brothers, ages 5 and 3, and an 18-month-old relative were killed.
“They brought the bodies over there, and dug a large hole,” said Sonya Infana, a neighbor, pointing at a mound.
“They threw the bodies inside.” Infana added.
Shamsia fate was different, yet, she has her own ordeal.
As the truck arrive in Bossembele, 20 miles north of Bangui’s Boyali, the Christian woman kept her vow and handed the Muslim baby girl to her uncle.
“Has my family been killed?” Aalaji Yamsa, Shamsia’s uncle asked the Christian woman.
“What I know is that they were taken into the mosque,” the woman replied.
“I don’t know what happened next.”
The baby girl will be fostered by her uncle who lived with his wife and ten children.
A few days after Shamsia’s arrival to her uncle’s house, the city has witnessed a Muslim exodus after anti-balaka militias took control, killing the remaining Muslim resident.
“We were never friends,” said Sylvain Danboye, one of the fighters.
“If any Yamsa comes back, we will kill him.”
Over the past weeks, thousands of terrified Muslim civilians fled for their lives to escape killings, looting and harassment by armed Christian militias.
Yamsa and his family managed to leave to Chad enduring a long journey that separated the family members during the road.
Taking refuge in the town of Bouali St. Pierre’s Parish with thousands of evacuated Muslims, Yamsa has witnessed one of the deadliest attacks against Muslims.
“We were lying on the floor,” Yamsa said.
“Bullets were flying through the church, striking walls.”
Seeing Yamsa’s wife, Pastor David offered to take care of Shamsia as the wife was exhausted and couldn’t help the infant.
Currently, the pastor keeps the baby girl, now nine months, with his family without telling his neighbors that she is a Muslims.
“If the people who run the country understood how much Muslims and Christians depend on each other in their lives, they would not bring such turmoil,” Davis, a Christian Pastor who fosters a Muslim baby girl, said.
“But they think only of themselves,” added David, who aims that the sectarian conflict in his country comes to an end.
Shamsia’s father, who refused to leave in order to protect the family’s properties, fled later to Chad without hope to get the baby.
“I never tell anyone she is a Muslim,” David said.
“I fear what they will do.”