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Fresh Fighting in Central African Republic Capital

Renewed fighting has broken out in the Central African Republic, where a flare-up in violence has left hundreds dead in recent weeks.

Eloi Yao, spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping mission, tells VOA the latest violence began late Thursday and continued through the morning in the capital, Bangui.

"From what I gathered, there was a church or a couple of churches where Christians have taken refuge. And then I think some people from the other camp, meaning the Muslims, received news of that. So they have gone there for confrontations."

Yao says an unknown number of civilians were injured. He said AU troops are making progress in getting the situation under control, but have also sustained casualties.

There were also reports Friday that Christian militias, known as anti-balaka, were continuing to attack Muslim neighborhoods of Bangui.

Attacks by the anti-balaka this month led to a series of reprisals by the mostly Muslim rebels, known as ex-Seleka, who toppled President Francois Bozize in March.

Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye on Thursday announced plans to speed up a transition of power. He said the presidential election originally set for 2015 will instead be held next year and that a new national election authority will be sworn in by early next week.

There was no immediate comment from the CAR's interim president, Michel Djotodia.

The prime minister spoke to reporters after a meeting in the capital Bangui with U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power.

Power spoke to VOA correspondent Idrissa Fall, who is also in Bangui. The ambassador urged cooperation.

"When people see division among the leaders, it sends a signal that the society is divided and so, they need to show unity."

Power also told Fall that those who have committed atrocities must be held accountable.

"People have suffered in this country and if they don't feel as if their suffering and their pain is being taken into account, the risk is that they will seek to do justice themselves."

Amnesty International says more than 1,000 people had been killed in Bangui since violence flared earlier this month. The death toll is significantly higher than what had been reported by relief organizations.

Human Rights Watch issued a report saying the Christian militias have committed atrocities against Muslims in a cycle of violence that "threatens to spin out of control."

The group highlighted alleged brutality by the militias in Ouham province, where it said fighters have slit the throats of women and children.

French and African Union troops in Bangui are attempting to stop the violence and restore order.

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