At least 30 people have died and dozens wounded in clashes in the Central African Republic, officials say.The fighting between former rebels and local civil protection groups broke out on Monday and continued on Tuesday.
Reports say the vigilantes attacked Garga village, 200 km (125 miles) north-west of the capital, Bangui.The impoverished country has descended into violence since rebels commanded by President Michel Djotodia ousted his predecessor Francois Bozize in March.Residents in Garga confirmed the latest fighting and told the BBC that up to 60 people may have died.
The Agence France-Presse news agency quoted an official saying the village had been "emptied of its residents". Many had sought refuge in nearby bush land, it said. A Roman Catholic priest who works in the country's north-west, Aurelio Gazzera, said that Garga first came under attack from apparent supporters of the ousted president.
Rebels from the alliance known as Seleka that overthrew President Bozize then retaliated, he said, citing witnesses who had reached a nearby town. "A witness described having seen at least 40 people killed by the Seleka fighters who had begun searching for the men in town,'' he said, pointing out that the casualty figures did not include Seleka personnel.
The Seleka forces involved in the violence included fighters from neighbouring Sudan, local residents were quoted by the AP news agency as saying. Mr Djotodia last month formally disbanded the rebels and integrated many fighters into the national army. However, rebels linked to Seleka have continued to launch attacks on scores of villages, prompting the emergence of local civilian protection groups.
Aid workers have accused undisciplined former rebels of looting the healthcare system, as well as robbing civilians, since Mr Djotodia took power. The new president has promised to relinquish power after elections scheduled for 2016.
Diplomats at the UN aim to pass a Security Council resolution on Thursday calling for security in the Central African Republic to be improved. The resolution is likely to express the council's intention to consider supporting an African Union peacekeeping force in the country, which is expected eventually to include up to 3,500 troops.
It is expected to call on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit detailed options within 30 days of the resolution's adoption, including the possibility of transforming the AU force into a UN peacekeeping force. The republic has huge deposits of precious minerals but has been plagued by chronic instability since independence in 1960. (BBC)