BANGUI, March 30 At least 10 people were killed
and dozens wounded when Chadian troops opened fire on civilians
in Central African Republic's capital Bangui, officials said on
The troops were driving into the city, scarred by religious
conflict over the past year, to escort a convoy of Muslims back
to Chad, having earlier crossed the countries' border some 500
km (300 miles) to the north in about 15 army vehicles.
"When they got to the PK12 neighbourhood, they suddenly
started shooting. People panicked and started running and
ducking for cover," said Sebastien Wenezoui, a spokesman for the
country's Christian militia, the anti-balaka.
Saturday's shooting was the latest in a string of violent
incidents involving Chadian troops, who the anti-balaka accuse
of siding with Muslims and Seleka rebels and preying upon the
local Christian population.
The mainly Muslim Seleka seized power a year ago,
perpetrating abuses on the majority Christian population that
triggered waves of revenge attacks, leading to thousands of
deaths and displacing hundreds of thousands.
Under international pressure, the rebels gave way in January
to an interim civilian government.
But the government - backed by 2,000 French and 6,000
African Union peacekeepers - has been unable to halt attacks by
the anti-balaka on Muslims, tens of thousands of whom have fled
to neighbouring countries or sought shelter in camps.
Majority-Muslim Chad has evacuated several thousand of its
citizens through airlifts and road convoys. Its government was
not immediately available to comment on Saturday's shooting.
The president of the local Red Cross, Pastor Antoine Mbao
Bogo, said Chadian troops had fired at civilians.
"I was told over 10 people were killed and about 30 others
were wounded, but I have not been able to verify the figures."
Antoinette Montaigne, communications minister for Central
African Republic's interim government, said the administration
was still waiting for a report about the incident, adding that
the government condemned the violence.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Central
Africa Republic, Human Rights Watch says.
The United Nations estimates about 15,000 Muslims are still
trapped in Bangui and other areas in the north, northwest and
south of the country, protected by international forces.
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by John Stonestreet)