(Corrects source of quote in paragraph 7)
* U.N. rights office condemns attacks on places of worship
* Overnight clashes hit Bangui neighbourhood
* PM confirms he will not stand at next elections
By Emmanuel Braun
BANGUI, Dec 13 A militia group has killed 27
Muslims in a village in the Central African Republic, the United
Nations said on Friday, in an attack underscoring the
difficulties faced by French troops in stabilising their former
The Christian militia, known as anti-Balaka, killed the
Muslims on Thursday in Bohong, a village about 75 km (47 miles)
from the far western town of Bouar, the U.N. Human Rights office
"The situation is also tense in several towns, including
Bouca, Bossangoa and Bozoum, where a vicious cycle of attacks
and reprisals continues," it said in an email.
Mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March, ousting
President Francois Bozize. They conducted a string of abuses,
prompting the creation of Christian defence groups, which in
turn deepened inter-religious conflict.
Christian militia and gunmen loyal to Bozize attacked the
capital last week, triggering fresh killings and reprisals. More
than 500 people died and 100,000 were displaced from their homes
in the capital Bangui alone.
French troops, who now number 1,600 in the country, have
restored some order to Bangui and begun disarming gunmen as well
as moving out to other towns. But the killings in Bohong point
to the scale of the task in a country the size of France.
"We condemn any attack on places of worship and on religious
freedom, and urge all communities to exercise restraint," the
U.N. Human Rights office said in a briefing note.
The African country is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium
but has seen little stability in five decades. France has
intervened more since independence in 1960 than in any of its
Several people died in clashes in the Miskine neighbourhood
of northwest Bangui on Thursday night and Friday morning,
according to witnesses, a sign that the capital itself remains
The fighting started when ethnic Christians on Thursday
looted the motor-bike shop of a man linked to the Seleka and
escalated into reprisal killings. French troops, backed by a
helicopter, restored calm on Friday, they said.
"The tension is still high in the neighbourhood despite the
presence of the French," said Chancella Cazalima, a student.
Residents in Miskine said it was a Seleka stronghold and
urged the French army and African peacekeepers to step up their
intelligence operations in a bid to bring calm.
There was no immediate comment from the French army.
Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye confirmed on Friday he would
not stand at the next elections in accordance with a political
accord signed in January.
"We will set up, in the next few days, the national
transition authority. This structure, which is independent, is
empowered to prepare and organise elections," he said in an
interview on France 24.
France wants elections brought forward to next year, putting
an end to the interim period originally scheduled to run into
(Additional reporting by Nicholas Vincour in Paris and
Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg;
Editing by Emma Farge and Alister Doyle)