At least 28 killed in fighting in Central African Republic

BANGUI Mon May 5, 2014 3:01pm EDT

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BANGUI (Reuters) - At least 28 people have been killed in Central African Republic during several days of fighting between Muslim and Christian militias in a town in the center of the war-torn country, a priest and a former member of parliament told Reuters on Monday.

The fighting in Mala, around 300 km (190 miles) north of the capital Bangui, between former Seleka rebels and the Christian militia known as the "anti-Balaka", is the latest in months of tit-for-tat inter-communal violence that has killed thousands and displaced over 1 million people.

The fighting started on Thursday after anti-Balaka fighters looted Seleka food reserves, residents told Reuters.

"During the four days of combat, at least 28 people have been killed including 22 civilians and six Seleka rebels," said Augustin Ndoukoulouba, a former a former member of parliament of the region, in Bangui.

Ndoukoulouba said residents told him bodies littered the streets because there was no one to bury them, while the wounded could not get help.

Everaldo de Souza, a priest in the neighboring town of D├ękoa, told Reuters by telephone that seven people were killed in three nearby villages by ex-Seleka rebels. The final death toll could be higher, he said.

Inter-communal violence has gripped the former French colony since late 2012 when a struggle power degenerated into fighting between Muslims and Christian militias.

An interim government in power since January - assisted by thousands of French, European and African peacekeepers - has failed to end the violence.

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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