BANGUI: Central African troops battled fighters loyal to the ousted president yesterday on the second day of clashes that have killed at least 60 people, one of the deadliest outbreaks since a March coup.
The fighting erupted on Sunday near Bossangoa, some 250km north of the capital Bangui, in the home region of Francois Bozize, who ruled the troubled nation for 10 years until his overthrow six months ago.
Militiamen described as Bozize loyalists infiltrated villages around Bossangoa destroying bridges and other infrastructure and “taking revenge against the Muslim population”, the presidency’s spokesman Guy-Simplice Kodegue said.
“At least 60 people were killed in these attacks,” he said. Michel Djotodia, the man whose Seleka rebel group ousted Bozize in March, was sworn in last month as the Christian-majority Central African Republic’s first Muslim president.
Yesterday morning, “heavy and light arms fire” were heard in the district of Bouca, on the road leading to Bossangoa, a military source said. The clashes killed at least 10 people on Sunday in Bossangoa, including two local employees of the humanitarian organisation ACTED.
The Paris-based NGO confirmed the two deaths in a statement, stressing that the pair were involved in efforts to facilitate the evacuation of civilians affected by the fighting and were clearly identifiable as aid workers.