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Bangui - The death toll of victims killed during renewed clashes between Muslim rebels of the Seleka coalition and Christian vigilante groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) has risen to at least 40, witnesses said Tuesday.
The attacks took place overnight Monday into Tuesday in the villages of Gaga in Ouham district and Yaloke in neighbouring Ombella M'Poko district, roughly 200 kilometres north-west of the capital, Bangui.
“Most of those killed were civilians. They were hit by bullets of the Seleka rebels,” a resident of Yaloke told dpa on condition of anonymity.
At least 50 civilians were injured.
“We don't have enough staff to assist the wounded and appeal to government and international partners to provide aid,” said a health official at the local hospital in Yaloke, who did not want to be named.
“Many others have gone into hiding,” he added.
Although CAR President Michel Djotodia disbanded the Seleka coalition in mid-September, a group he had headed during the December 2012 rebellion, the rebels have been refusing to disarm.
Under Djotodia's command, the rebels toppled former president Francois Bozize in March. They also plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis that has displaced almost 300 000 of the CAR's 4.5 million people and killed scores of civilians.
Since Djotodia was sworn in as president in August, he has been struggling to restore law and order in the land-locked country rich in diamonds and gold.