Eight Die as African Troops Clash with Militia in C.Africaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Eight people, including six civilians, have been killed in a firefight between African peacekeepers and fighters from the mainly Christian "anti-balaka" militia, a police source said Tuesday.
Troops of the MISCA African Union force clashed Sunday with anti-balaka militias at Cantonnier, near the border with Cameroon, a gendarmerie source in the western town of Bouar told AFP .
"The provisional toll is eight dead -- two anti-balaka and six civilians," the source said.
A MISCA source confirmed that an incident took place near the frontier pitting African troops against the anti-balaka (anti-machete) fighters in "circumstances that are not yet clearly known".
"No MISCA soldier was hit during this incident," the source added.
The clash occurred at a checkpoint erected by the anti-balaka when a MISCA patrol refused to comply with the demands of the militiamen, the gendarmerie source said.
Subduing the anti-balaka forces, who emerged last year to wreak havoc on the strife-torn country's Muslim minority, is one of the priorities for African and French troops sent to help restore order amid bloody chaos.
Transitional President Catherine Samba Panza has vowed to "go to war" on the anti-balaka, who claim to seek vengeance for atrocities committed by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance, the Seleka, which temporarily seized power in March last year.
The Seleka coup plunged the country into chaos, unleashing a wave of Muslim-Christian violence that has left thousands dead. Hundreds of thousands of people have also been displaced by the brutal surge of killings, mutilations, rapes and looting.
With the intervention of French and African troops, the security situation is gradually improving in the southern capital Bangui but the unrest has continued unabated in other parts of the country.
Former Seleka rebels are blamed by local residents for killing at least 22 people in the western town of Bang since last Thursday, according to Florent Geel, the Africa director of the International Federation for Human Rights, who was visiting Bangui.
"The assailants looted administrative buildings and places of worship," Geel said.
However, other local sources said that the violence was carried out by men following Abdel Kader Baba Ladde, a Chadian former rebel leader who has been on the run since 2012. His fighters fell back into western CAR and some were said to have joined the Seleka.
"On Sunday morning, we heard shots in several parts of Bang. Baba Ladde's men started firing in the air, putting people to flight," local farmer Martin Himi Dana told AFP by telephone.
"On the ground, we counted two people dead. They detained seven other people and forced them to leave with them. The bodies of these seven people were found yesterday with bullet wounds a few kilometers (miles) from Bang," Dana added.