Protesters demand CAR government resigns

Police fire shots to disperse thousands demanding resignation of interim government and removal of foreign troops.

African and European peacekeepers patrol the country, but have failed to stop the violence [AFP]

Security forces fired warning shots as protesters gathered in Bangui demanding the resignation of the interim government and the removal of foreign troops from Central African Republic.

Troops and police fired in a bid to stop thousands of protesters from gathering in the capital Bangui on Friday, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The protesters dispersed about an hour later.

Bursts of automatic weapons fire were also heard in the central Bangui neighbourhood that is home to the presidential palace, and in the area of the airport on the outskirts of the city.

The capital has experienced an upsurge in violence in recent days, prompting the authorities to set up many checkpoints on the main roads.

No vehicles were circulating on Friday.

Several civilians were wounded on Thursday during clashes between young people and African forces deployed in Bangui. A mosque was also plundered and destroyed a day after a church was attacked by Muslim gunmen.

At least 11 people, including a priest, were killed and several others wounded when a Catholic church was attacked in central Bangui.

Witnesses said the gunmen threw grenades and opened fire indiscriminately in the complex where thousands of displaced people were sheltering.

On Thursday, aid agencies said they were facing challenges in getting humanitarian supplies delivered to those who need them in the country.

Save the Children, a UK charity, said there were continuous hold-ups on the border with Cameroon and that the Chad border had been closed. Key routes are blocked off owing to the frequent movement of armed men and resulting clashes.

The CAR has been in crisis since the Muslim-led Seleka alliance seized power in a March 2013 coup led by Michel Djotodia.

Splinter groups of Seleka rebels launched a brutal campaign, killing, raping and looting.

The abuses prompted members of the Christian majority to form vigilante “anti-Balaka” groups, unleashing a wave of clashes that has left thousands dead and around a million people displaced.

Djotodia, now in exile in Benin, was replaced as president by interim leader Catherine Samba Panza in January after failing to stop the bloodshed.

Source: News Agencies