World Bulletin / News Desk
Heavy fighting erupted near the airport in Central African Republic's capital Bangui on Wednesday as Christian militia blocked an attempt to evacuate Muslims, witnesses said, disrupting a visit by a top United Nations aid official.
The former French colony has been gripped by cycles of inter-religious killing despite the deployment of about 6,000 African and 1,600 French peacekeepers to halt violence that some diplomats say risked slipping into genocide.
Songokoua Yetinzapa, a Bangui resident living in a vast camp for displaced civilians near the airport, said clashes began after Chadian troops tried to escort a convoy of Muslims out of the city but were blocked by the militia, known as the "anti-balaka".
"I heard several people were killed but I only saw one dead body: a Muslim who was killed by the anti-balaka," he said by telephone as automatic gunfire and an explosion rang out.
A U.N. official said African peacekeepers had been dispatched to reinforce troops in the area near the airport.
Another U.N. official said the fighting had prevented Valerie Amos, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, from travelling to the north of the country where violence between Muslims and Christians has also scattered tens of thousands of civilians.
Seleka rebels toppled President Francois Bozize last March. Killings and abuses carried while they were in power led to the creation of a mainly Christian self-defence militia known as "anti-balaka".
Around 1 million people have been displaced by the violence. U.N. officials estimate that at least 2,000 people have been killed since the start of the crisis, but say the actual figure will be much higher as mass graves as unearthed and killings continue.
Violence has escalated since Seleka leader Michel Djotodia quit power in January under international pressure. Seleka's retreat has led to Muslims fleeing the south and warnings from a top U.N. official of "ethnic-religious cleansing".
Lawmakers declared a 'state of crisis caused by mass immigration'
Guterres will end his tenure as Europe grapples with a refugee crisis that some have described as the worst since World War Two
Ministers of Macedonia, Austria, Serbia and Hungary have signed an agreement to tackle the refugee crisis jointly
In search for better life refugee children forced to 'witness death of their loved ones, including parents, relatives and friends'
Special representative mediating negotiations in Geneva between rival factions aimed at establishing unity government
Country's tourism minister says series of terrorist attacks have brought situation to crisis point
'Britain will act with its head and heart,' Cameron says
Protests would be 'a message against the visit of war criminal and British government's position on this visit'
A Swedish prosecutor has said that there is sufficient evidence that shows that the Uzbek regime is behind the shooting of an outspoken cleric
A Greek coast guard has been filmed opening fire causing the boat to explode, leaving refugees in the water.
The White House has said that Russia has failed to with the Minsk accord and that they not reacted the way we 'would like to see'
Germany's biggest club vows to provide refugee children with food, German lessons, football equipment
During the Eastern Economic forum, Putin has suggested that a coalition that involves Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan as well as Russia would help combat extremism
2-year-old Aylan Kurdi, family refused immigration by Canada
High Commissioner for Refugees believes EU member states have means to increase relocation opportunities to as many as 200,000 places
British PM promised to fullfil 'moral duty' yet seeks comprehensive solution