A general with the African peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic is defending Chadian soldiers who are accused of opening fire on civilians and killing more than 20 people.
General Martin Tumenta Chomu told reporters Monday that the troops were responding to an attack by Christian militiamen in the capital, Bangui. He said the troops were ordered on Saturday to take what he called "shots of deterrence" to open a road in the volatile PK12 neighborhood.
Witnesses in the neighborhood told VOA the Chadian troops fired heavily and indiscriminately on the population. Local officials say at least 20 people were killed and dozens of others wounded.
A spokesman for the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said the group has treated 28 injured people.
"Following the events this weekend, Doctors Without Borders took charge of 28 injured, and out of these 28 injured we recorded 26 injuries by bullets or grenades, and there is a certain number of patients who've had surgery, and some of them will stay in hospital with us for about one month."
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday condemned acts of violence against both civilians and international forces in C.A.R.
Bangui's PK12 neighborhood has been a tense part of town for months, as African peacekeeping troops and French soldiers are protecting Muslims who are being attacked by mostly Christian militia.
The attacks have prompted tens of thousands of Muslims in the C.A.R. to flee their homes and communities in recent months.
The Christian militia, known as anti-balaka, formed last year in response to a wave of killing and looting by mostly Muslim Seleka rebels.
There are about 6,000 African Union troops in the C.A.R., working alongside 2,000 French troops in efforts to protect civilians and disarm militias.
The peacekeepers have been unable to stop the largely Christian anti-balaka from surrounding and attacking Muslims communities.