At least three people have been killed and hundreds of others forced to flee their homes in the Central African Republic (CAR) over an attack by gunmen against a neighborhood in the country’s capital.
The deadly incident occurred in the predominantly Muslim PK5 neighborhood of the capital, Bangui, on Monday when armed men with machine guns and heavy weapons raided the neighborhood.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but members of the anti-Balaka militia are suspected.
According to witnesses, soldiers from the United Nations mission in the CAR engaged the assailants and were ultimately able to repel them. Reports said fighting had died down when night fell.
Earlier, on Sunday, fully armed members of ex-rebel group Seleka had abducted six police officers in the capital, according to Minister of the Interior Jean-Serge Bokassa. It was, however, not clear whether the Monday attack and the Sunday kidnappings were linked.
The CAR, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been hit by turmoil since 2013, when Christian armed groups launched coordinated attacks against the mostly-Muslim Seleka group, which itself had toppled the government in March that year.
In December 2013, France deployed military forces to the CAR, a former French colony, after the UN Security Council gave the go-ahead to sending troops to the country in a declared aim to contain the violence that ensued the coup.
However, violence has not subsided. According to the latest UN estimates, the conflict in the CAR has internally displaced 399,000 people and forced more than 460,000 to flee to neighboring countries.