A Muslim former minister has been hacked to death by machete-wielding Christian militiamen in the capital of the Central African Republic.
Joseph Kalite was reportedly attacked as he stepped out of a taxi in Bangui.
It came as clashes escalated a day after interim President Catherine Samba-Panza took office.
The vice-president of a Muslim youth group, Mahmoud Hissene, said:
“He wasn’t even holding any function with the Seleka, he was excluded bythe Seleka. But as he was a Muslim official, they cowardly killed him
because of that.”
Fighters from the Muslim rebel Seleka group soon retaliated forcing residents to run for cover and gunfire and explosions rang out across the Muslim Miskine area of the city.
The landlocked former French colony descended into chaos last March when the Muslim rebel Seleka coalition marched into the capital, unleashing a wave of killing and looting. That sparked a wave of revenge attacks by Christian militia known as “anti-balaka”, or “anti-machete”
More than 2,000 people have died in fighting since December. More than a million others have sought shelter in neighbouring countries.
Both Christian and Muslim groups blame each other for the tit-for-tat violence.
Around 1,600 French troops and an African Union contingent of 5,000 are part of a peacekeeping force.
Central African Republic, one of Africa’s poorest countries despite its mineral wealth, appointed Bangui mayor Catherine Samba-Panza as interim national leader this week.
Its former President Michel Djotodia, head of the Seleka coalition, stepped down on Jan. 10 under intense international pressure.