During the sixth century, people known as the Khmers established an empire that lasted for several centuries. During the colonial period the area was ruled by the French. Cambodia obtained its independence in 1953, though was heavily affected by the war in neighbouring Vietnam and by a communist insurgency movement known as the Khmer Rouge, who captured the capital in 1975. Due to this, 75 percent of all teaching staff and 96 percent of university students were killed. It is estimated that at least 3 million people died during the four years of the regime. The Khmer Rouge attempted to eradicate all religion: some 90 percent of Buddhist monks and nuns perished and an unknown number of Christians were killed. The Khmer Rouge declined rapidly in the mid-1990s and a coalition government was formed after national elections in 1998, which brought renewed political stability. Christianity came to Cambodia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Several Independent churches were established during the twentieth century, and the New Apostolic Church is currently the largest Christian denomination in Cambodia. There are no WCC member churches based in this country.