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French Troops Deploy Tanks in CAR Capital

  • VOA News

French soldiers are seen on patrol in Bangui on Dec. 25, 2013.

French soldiers are seen on patrol in Bangui on Dec. 25, 2013.

Heavy gunfire rocked the capital of the Central African Republic on Wednesday, killing as many as nine people.

The gunfire prompted French troops to deploy tanks to protect their position at the Bangui airport.

VOA's French-to-Africa service reports the shooting was concentrated in northern Bangui, and the sound of heavy weapons could be heard in several neighborhoods.

Officials with the African-led peacekeeping mission in CAR told reporters for VOA that five troops were killed in Bangui in clashes with mostly Christian anti-balaka forces.

Also, unidentified gunmen killed four people shortly before a Christmas church service began. In an interview with VOA's French-to-Africa service, a parish priest, Father Anicet Ossibouyen Senganambi, said men believed to be linked to the mostly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels attacked his church.

He said the church grounds have become a refugee center for thousands of civilians seeking protection from violence.

French and African forces have been trying to disarm militias and quell persistent unrest in CAR.

The country descended into chaos after Seleka forces overthrew President Francois Bozize in March. Much of the fighting since then has been between ex-Seleka rebels and anti-balaka militias.