30 people have been killed as militiamen and traders in a restive district of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic engaged in a fight.
According to AFP, the revelation was made by a security official and a local imam on Thursday.
“Thirty bodies have been brought to the mosque,” said Awad Al Karim, the imam of the Ali Babolo mosque in a district called PK5 that became a haven for many Bangui Muslims at the peak of Christian-Muslim clashes in the country.
The fighting began after traders in the district took up arms to oppose taxes levied by militia groups, the imam said.
Bursts of automatic fire and explosions were heard on Wednesday evening and on Thursday morning, according to an AFP journalist who was in a neighbouring district.
The head of the African Red Cross, Antoine Mbaobogo, said the toll “stood at 23 at 4:00 pm but could now be 33,” adding that there were still bodies near the market.
Neither the UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA nor the CAR authorities have been able to assert control over the PK5 district.
And MINUSCA did not provide any exact toll from the fighting, saying only there had been “dozens of victims”.
MINUSCA spokesman, Bili Aminou Alao, said a rapid response force had been sent to the area.
“Part of the market and some vehicles have been burned,” he said.
“Between 40 and 50 shops have been burned down, as well as four or five houses,” said Patrick Bidilou Niabode, head of the CAR’s civil protection service.
Voluntary firefighters put out two fires which had been spreading in the market but were unable to tackle a blaze at two houses because of heavy gunfire, he added.