More than 20 people have been killed and dozens wounded in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui, on Thursday after some of the heaviest clashes for months.
The city has reportedly been attacked by Christian militia known as “anti-balaka.” They are supporters of Christian President Francois Bozize who was ousted by Muslim rebels in March.
“This morning we woke up and there was shooting everywhere. We asked ourselves if the “anti-balaka” were not already in town,” said Bangui resident Wilfred Koyamba.
The attack came hours before a UN vote due to authorize a French intervention.
The tit-for-tat religious and ethnic attacks have led to warnings of genocide.
A total of 1,200 French soldiers are in neighbouring Cameroon, waiting for the go-ahead from the UN Security Council.
They would join the 600 French troops already in Bangui as well as an African peacekeeping force.