At least two people have been killed during protests in the capital of the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), where there has been an upsurge in unrest in recent days.
The two were killed during an exchange of gunfire in Bangui. Reuters news agency says armed demonstrators fired shots at the base of Burundian peacekeepers who returned fire.
A local reporter told VOA’s French to Africa service that the protesters were calling for international forces to disarm the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels and the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militants. The groups have been linked to violence in the capital this week.
The protesters also called for the reinstatement of the national military force that was in place before President Francois Bozize was toppled last year.
On Thursday, youths from anti-Balaka militias destroyed a mosque in Bangui, in apparent retaliation for a Wednesday attack on a church that left at least 15 people dead.
Witnesses said Muslim gunmen threw grenades and fired bullets into the church compound where civilians had sought refuge from unrest.
The C.A.R. descended into chaos last year after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels toppled President Bozize.
Attacks and looting by Seleka forces sparked retaliatory attacks by the anti-Balaka.
In April, the U.N. Security Council agreed to authorize a nearly 12,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force for the C.A.R. The force takes over in mid-September.
Currently, a 6,000-troop African mission and about 2,000 French troops have been trying to restore calm in the country.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
SOURCE: VOA News