BANGUI: Rival vigilante militias in the Central African Republic clashed with heavy weapons overnight in the capital Bangui, residents said yesterday.
The gunfire had subsided by midday, but the situation remained tense in a northern suburb of Bangui, where the fighting took place.
“It is the anti-balaka, they do not leave us alone,” one resident fleeing the clashes in the Boy-Rabe neighbourhood said, referring to the mainly Christian vigilante groups.
The “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) forces were formed following the overthrow of president Francois Bozize by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition in March 2013.
The Seleka carried out a campaign of violence against the majority Christian community in the aftermath of the takeover, prompting the creation of the vigilante militia.
“Since last night, they have engaged in targeted attacks. Locals do not dare to leave. Some residents were injured in the crossfire while trying to flee,” the resident said yesterday.
An officer with an African Union peacekeeping force said its soldiers had been deployed to the entrances of the troubled suburb.
“There is a tense situation brewing in the neighbourhood of Boy-Rabe,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.