At least 30 people, mostly civilians, were killed in fighting between mainly Christian militia and predominantly Muslim rebels in the strife-torn Central African Republic, police said Wednesday.
The victims, "the majority of them civilians" caught in the crossfire, died during clashes Tuesday that also left more than 10 people wounded in the central town of Dekoa, police said.
The fighting pitted so-called "anti-balaka" militia against members of the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group that seized power for 10 months in March 2013, unleashing a wave of brutal tit-for-tat killings.
Police said the "anti-balaka" -- which means "anti-machete" in the local Sango language, referring to the weapon of choice used by the largely Christian militia -- attacked the Seleka positions early in the morning on Wednesday.
But the fighting escalated when the Seleka called in reinforcements, added police.
"Most of the victims were civilians, who were hit by stray bullets," the source added.
Thousands of people have been killed and around a quarter of Central African Republic's 4.6 million people have been displaced by the violence unleashed by the Seleka's coup.
African and French peacekeepers have struggled to keep the violence in check.
The United Nation's Security Council is expected on Thursday to authorise the deployment of about 12,000 peacekeepers in September to help stop the bloodshed.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the conflict has turned into "ethno-religious cleansing," with lynchings, decapitations and sexual violence going unpunished.