BANGUI. At least 10 people were killed and many other injured in a clash in the capital of the Central African Republic between the supporters of the toppled president and the fighters who ousted him, local sources reported.
The bloodshed occurred when fighters of Seleka, a coalition of five rebel movements who ousted former president Francois Bozize in March, tried to disarm Bozize soldiers after entering the district of Boy-Rabe on Tuesday, witnesses told Xinhua on Wednesday, adding the exchange of fire also left civilians dead and injured. The flare caused panic and forced hundreds of people to flee homes, seeking shelter elsewhere.
Hospital sources disclosed that at least 10 people died and dozens of others were injured in the fighting.A medic of Hospital Communautaire in Bangui told Xinhua that the hospital received 10 bodies Wednesday morning after the clash and dozens others injured in the fighting. “There were at least 10 deaths in our hospital,” he confirmed, declining to be identified. The source also said some of the injured were discharged from hospital after treatment. Witnesses also reported deaths and injuries at Hospital de l’amitie.
The two hospitals are the most important health centers in the city. There has been no comment from the government on the bloody encounter. Seleka suspected the pro-Bozize district of Boy-Rabe to be a depot of arms. “Consequently, it should be disarmed,” Minister of Public Security Noureldine Adam said Monday in talks with leaders of the district. The authorities also gave an ultimatum to the leaders, warning those in possession of arms would take responsibility in case of confrontations with the army. Shooting was heard on Tuesday night after Seleka fighters were sent in to disarm Bozize’s supporters. They had laid siege to the district since Sunday.
Seleka leader Michel Djotodia was sworn in on Aug. 18 as head of the transition government, which was formed after Seleka seized power. The Economic Community of Central African States has provided for a transitional period of 18 months pending an election to end the crisis.Djotodia told a press conference in July that Bozize had prepared a genocide before his departure, distributing more than 2,000 arms of war among youths in Roy-Rabe. He said most of the arms were stockpiled in the district of Boy-Rabe. Tuesday’s clash came after reports said Bozize had arrived in Paris planning a comeback.
The newly sworn-in rebel leader has been struggling to control the impoverished nation rich in mineral, which has gone through many violent power changes since its independence from France in 1960. Many people, including human rights groups and the Catholic archbishop of Bangui, have accused the rebels of abuses, looting and indiscriminate killings. The crisis in the country has spread to its neighbors, forcing the Cameroon government to shut its border on Wednesday after Seleka rebels were reported to have killed a police officer at the border and spent the day drinking in Cameroon capital.