Six Chadian peacekeepers have been killed and 15 others injured in the Central African Republic after hours of sporadic fighting, a spokesman for the African Union Peacekeeping Mission (MISCA) said.
The Chadians were attacked by fighters from the mainly Christian “anti-balaka” militia in the Gabongo neighbourhood of the capital Bangui on Wednesday, MISCA spokesman Eloi Yao told Reuters news agency.
The Chadian contingent, made up of Arabic-speaking Muslim soldiers, has been accused of siding with Muslim fighters who took control of the country through a coup nine months ago.
Five of the peacekeepers were killed immediately on Wednesday and another died on Thursday.
“The number of Chadian soldiers killed has risen to six because one of them died from his wounds this morning,” Yao said.
A Reuters reporter also saw three civilian bodies on the streets of a northern neighbourhood following Wednesday’s fighting.
The anti-balaka, a largely Christian militia whose name means “anti-machete”, has taken up arms against the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels who seized power in March and unleashed a wave of looting, rape and massacres.
UN considering mission
Violence eased in Bangui on Thursday as French peacekeepers assumed positions on main roads near the airport and in troubled neighbourhoods.
Thousands of people have been displaced by fighting in the city this month.
France deployed a 1,600-strong peacekeeping mission in its former colony in early December to join the 4,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission.
France’s force, codenamed Sangaris, has between 1,000 and 1,200 men stationed in Bangui, with the rest deployed in the interior of the country, said Colonel Gilles Jaron, spokesman for the French military.
“The Sangaris force has not been the target of coordinated attacks,” said Jaron. “We are the target of sporadic shooting which we respond to each time.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is drafting plans for a possible UN peacekeeping mission in CAR.