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Violent clashes kill 4 in C.African capital

AFP , Sunday 23 Mar 2014
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At least four people have been killed in clashes between armed groups and international peacekeepers in the capital of the strife-torn Central African Republic, a military official said Sunday.

A further seven people were injured when violence erupted Saturday in the PK-5 district of Bangui between Christian militia and Muslim groups, said an officer with the African Union military force known as MISCA.

"The clashes erupted in several places at once, causing international forces to intervene to stop the hostilities," said the officer.

A French military source confirmed the violence, saying: "Our men were attacked and fought back."

Businesses in Bangui's mostly Muslim PK-5 district have been targeted for weeks by looters and the mainly Christian militia known as "anti-balaka", or anti-machete.

The Central African Republic was plunged into chaos by a March 2013 coup that ousted president Francois Bozize, sparking a cycle of revenge attacks between the Muslim minority and Christian majority.

The violence has killed thousands and displaced around a quarter of the impoverished country's 4.6 million people, and the United Nations is investigating genocide allegations.

The UN's rights chief on Thursday expressed horror at the level of violence in the Central African Republic, citing cannibalism, child decapitations and gruesome lynchings.

French forces Thursday reported clashes with anti-balaka fighters in Bangui and on the main route that connects the capital to the border with Cameroon.

Staff Colonel Gilles Jaron said local rebel groups had become more hardline in recent weeks, "which probably reflects the impact of French and MISCA peacekeeping forces in areas where they are implanted".

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