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Several killed as violence flares in Central African Republic

Edouard Dropsy, AFP | A wounded man is carried into the General Hospital in Bangui on September 26, 2015 after unknown assailants opened fire in the capital's restive PK5 district

At least 21 people were killed in the capital of the Central African Republic on Saturday and around 100 others were wounded, senior hospital officials said, in the worst violence this year in the city secured by French and UN peacekeepers.

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Witnesses said the burst of violence in Bangui was sparked by the killing of a motorcycle taxi driver, whose body was found dumped in the street.

His death was followed by clashes in a majority Muslim neighbourhood of Bangui known as PK-5, the centre of unprecedented killing between Christians and Muslims between 2013 and 2014.

The Central African Republic descended into bloodshed after a 2013 coup ousted longtime leader François Bozizé, and the impoverished country remains prey to violence between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian "anti-balaka" militias.

Residents were sent running in terror by Saturday's violence, witnesses said, though by the end of the day the numbers of gunshots heard in the area had decreased sharply.

In response to the shooting, UN peacekeepers and French soldiers took up positions in the district.

The transitional government condemned the bloodshed, saying the "useless violence comes as Central Africa in general and the city of Bangui in particular yearns for peace and security".

Though the level of violence has fallen significantly in CAR since last year, the country still has high crime rates fuelled in part by the easy access to weapons left over from the sectarian conflict.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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