French troops in C.Africa clash with armed men
French peacekeepers deployed in the restive Central African Republic opened fire in capital Bangui after coming under attack from unidentified gunmen, sources told AFP Friday.
The soldiers were on patrol in the mainly Muslim PK5 district when they were shot at by unidentified gunmen late Thursday, triggering a riposte, an official in the African peacekeeping force MISCA said.
The gunfight continued for more than three hours.
"The exact toll of the shooting is unknown," the official added.
Residents in neighbouring districts said they heard heavy arms fire for several hours as a helicopter flew overhead.
A source close to the French forces confirmed the incident by telephone but did not give a toll.
However the spokesman for the Muslim community in PK5, Abakar Moustapha, said five residents were killed and several other people were wounded.
"French soldiers were searching a house suspected to be an arms cache in the Cameroonian district (of the PK5) when they were attacked by angry youths because the Senegalese owner of the house is not in Bangui," he said.
A spokesman for the Central African Red Cross said three people with gunshot wounds were taken to a PK5 hospital overnight Thursday.
The Central African Republic, one of the poorest countries in the world, plunged into a crisis after a coup by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels in March last year.
© 2014 AFP