At least seven people were killed in the capital of Central African Republic on Sunday during heavy fighting between forces who seized power last month and armed youths loyal to the president they ousted, a doctor and a resident said.
A Reuters correspondent said heavy and small arms fire rang out in Bangui’s Boy-Rabe neighbourhood on Sunday morning before easing off just after 0900 EST. Three of the dead were killed when a shell landed on a church.
Michel Djotodia seized power last month when he swept through the mineral-rich but isolated country with thousands of rebels, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee.
General Moussa Dhaffane, who said he was acting as a government spokesman, said Sunday’s fighting erupted after the forces patrolled through the neighborhood, which is a stronghold for pro-Bozize youths who were armed during the rebel advance.
Romain Guetinzia, head of the Bangui’s Community Hospital, said the toll of seven killed was provisional as wounded were still being brought in to the hospital.
A grouping of five rebel movements, known as Seleka, launched its insurgency in early December, accusing former president Bozize of reneging on a 2007 peace deal.
Djotodia was elected president on Saturday by an acting parliament and has named a civilian prime minister. But regional powers have refused to recognize him as president and called for a return to civilian rule within 18 months.