French peacekeepers killed several militiamen after they came under attack while on patrol in the Central African Republic, an officer with the African peacekeeping force said Tuesday.
Backed by war planes, the French troops opened fire using heavy weapons on gunmen from the former rebel movement Seleka who attacked them when they entered the northern town of Batangafo on Monday, the officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Several ex-Seleka fighters were killed, he added without saying whether there were any French casualties.
"The clash lasted for hours and loud explosions frightened many residents who fled to the bush," the officer said.
Last week at least 22 people were killed in clashes in Batangafo between the Seleka and the rival anti-balaka militia, according to African peacekeepers who are working with the French.
Batangafo lies in the district of Ouham, home of former president Francois Bozize, who was overthrown by the Seleka rebels in March 2013.
The mostly Muslim Seleka carried out a campaign of violence against the majority Christian community in the following months, prompting the creation of the anti-balaka militia.
Fighting between the rival groups has plunged the country into a cycle of brutal sectarian violence that has left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, with almost the entire Muslim community abandoning the capital Bangui and other parts of the country.
Date created : 2014-08-05