July 6, 2016 / 7:07 AM / 3 years ago

At least 12 killed in fighting in Central African Republic town

BANGUI (Reuters) - At least 12 people were killed in Central African Republic in fighting between two factions of a former rebel group in the centre of the town of Bambari, medical and local sources said on Tuesday.

Insecurity has persisted since President Faustin-Archange Touadéra was sworn in in March, after an election intended to draw a line under inter-communal and inter-religious violence that involved the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and anti-balaka militia began in 2013.

The fighting on Monday started when a local businessman was murdered. It involved members of the Union for Peace in Central Africa, which is part of the Seleka, according to the mayor of Bambari Abel Matchipata, who said between 15 and 20 people were killed.

Soldiers from Mauritania and Burundi who form part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, restored calm, Matchipata said.

“We have received 14 wounded, of whom six are serious, and they were evacuated to Bangui this morning. According to our information, there were that many wounded on the field of combat,” the director of the hospital in Bambari told Reuters.

An official for the national Red Cross society, who declined to be named, said 20 people had died.

The U.N. mission declared Bambari a non-armed zone in 2014. But this has not stopped sporadic clashes in the town, northeast of the capital.

Two people also died when a young man who had been arguing with friends in the mainly Muslim PK-5 neighbourhood of Bangui threw a grenade, Ibrahim Hassan Frede, spokesman of an association that coordinates Muslims in the area, told Reuters.

A dozen others were wounded in the attack, he said.

Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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