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23 killed in Central African Republic clashes

President extends Bangui curfew by four hours

Reuters . Bangui

Seleka soldiers race through Bangui, Central African Republic, on Thursday as gunfire and mortar rounds erupt in the town. AP photoSeleka soldiers race through Bangui, Central African Republic, on Thursday as gunfire and mortar rounds erupt in the town. AP photo

Gunfire echoed through the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday in the heaviest clashes there for months, hours before the UN was expected to authorise a French mission to curb escalating Muslim-Christian sectarian violence.
Meanwhile, the president, Michel Djotodia, on Thursday extended a curfew in the capital by four hours, from 6:00pm (1700 GMT) to 6:00am, after a night of deadly clashes.
Former rebels controlling Bangui said they had come under attack from local militia and fighters loyal to ousted president Francois Bozize. A Reuters witness at one hospital said at least 23 people had been killed since shooting began before dawn. He saw another 64 wounded, including women and children.
Mindful of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when hundreds of thousands were killed as the world looked on, the United States and other Western powers are lobbying for international action to prevent the anarchy in Central African Republic leading to major atrocities against the civilian population.
‘There has been gunfire all over town,’ Amy Martin, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangui, said.
The UN Security Council is due to vote later on Thursday on dispatching hundreds of French reinforcements to restore order in the country, which has slipped into chaos since mainly Muslim rebels seized power in March, leading to tit-for-tat sectarian violence.
Central African Republic is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium but decades of instability and spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbours have kept it mired in crisis.
Michel Djotodia, leader of the Seleka former rebel alliance, is now the country’s interim president but he has struggled to control his loose band of fighters, many of whom are gunmen from neighbouring Chad and Sudan.




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23 killed in Central African Republic clashes

Seleka soldiers race through Bangui, Central African Republic, on Thursday as gunfire and mortar rounds erupt in the town. AP photo
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