File picture: AFP

Bangui - Two people were killed and several others were wounded on Friday when gunfire erupted during protests in Bangui calling for the resignation of the interim government, witnesses and a military source told AFP.

The protesters are also demanding the removal of the Burundian contingent of the African peacekeeping forces from the Central African Republic amid charges it has permitted attacks on Christians, witnesses added.

A military source earlier told AFP that troops and police fired warning shots in a bid to stop thousands of protesters gathering in different neighbourhoods of the capital.

Bursts of automatic weapons fire were 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.

At least 15 people, including a priest, were killed and several others wounded when violence erupted at a church in central Bangui on Wednesday, where thousands of displaced people had sought refuge, according to police and military sources.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned recent attacks, calling on authorities to take “concrete measures to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable”.

The deeply impoverished, majority Christian country has been wracked by relentless tit-for-tat attacks between Christian vigilante groups and the mainly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels who seized control in a coup last year but were forced from power in January. - AFP