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Gunfire in C. Africa capital amid anti government protests

Gunfire in C. Africa capital amid anti government protests/AFP

Gunfire in C. Africa capital amid anti government protests/AFP

BANGUI, May 30- Security forces fired warning shots as protesters in Bangui demanded the resignation of the interim government and the removal of foreign troops from Central African Republic on Friday, a military source said.

Troops and police fired in a bid to stop the protesters gathering in the capital, the source said, who numbered in the thousands, according to an AFP journalist at the scene. The protesters dispersed around an hour later.

Bursts of automatic weapons fire were also heard in the central Bangui neighbourhood that is home to the presidential palace, and in the area of the airport on the outskirts of the city.

The capital has experienced an upsurge in violence in recent days, prompting the authorities to set up many checkpoints on the main roads. No vehicles were circulating on Friday.

Several civilians were wounded Thursday during clashes between young people and African forces deployed in Bangui.

On Wednesday at least 15 people, including a priest, were killed and several others wounded in clashes in Bangui, a military source said.

Deeply impoverished Central Africa has been in crisis since the mainly Muslim Seleka alliance seized power in a March 2013 coup led by Michel Djotodia.

Splinter groups of Seleka rebels went rogue, embarking on a campaign of killing, raping and looting.

The abuses prompted members of the Christian majority to form vigilante “anti-balaka” groups, unleashing a wave of tit-for-tat killings that has left thousands dead and close to a million displaced.

Djotodia, now in exile in Benin, was replaced as president by interim leader Catherine Samba Panza in January after failing to stop the bloodshed.

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