Machine gun, heavy weapons fire rock C.African Republic capital

by Reuters
Thursday, 9 October 2014 10:46 GMT

Seleka fighters carry weapons captured from Anti-Balaka Christian militia members in the town of Lioto, Central African Republic, June 9, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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It has not been immediately clear who was involved in the clashes but they follow days of violence between Muslim and Christian communities

BANGUI, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Machine gun and heavy weapons fire rang out in Central African Republic's capital Bangui overnight into Thursday morning, witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear who was involved in the clashes but they follow days of escalating violence between the city's Muslim and Christian communities that have been driven apart by two years of conflict.

A Reuters witness said he could hear the sound of mortar fire coming from the KM-5 neighbourhood and the streets emptied as people fled fighting.

An international aid worker said she had been told to stay at home.

"Clashes are going on in Castor and around that area," the aid worker told Reuters, referring to a part of Bangui. There were reports of 'anti-Balaka' militia stopping people in the streets and checking people's papers, she added.

The mainly Christian 'anti-balaka' militia, which emerged when mainly Muslim rebels were briefly in power last year, have called on Interim President Samba Panza to step down.

The was no immediate comment on the violence from the government, the French or United Nations peacekeeping forces.

But the U.N. mission issued a statement late on Wednesday calling for dialogue between the various political actors. It condemned the deaths, injuries and acts of violence but gave no further details.

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette and Serge Leger Kokpakpa in Bangui; Additional reporting by Bate Felix and David Lewis in Dakar; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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