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Fresh Fighting in Central African Republic Capital

Renewed fighting has erupted in the Central African Republic, where French and African soldiers have been trying to quell unrest.

Crackles of gunfire could be heard for the second straight day in the capital, Bangui, where armed groups have been roaming neighborhoods.

VOA correspondent Idriss Fall says a mob attacked his vehicle as his driver went through a Christian neighborhood north of the capital.

"We were kind of surrounded by almost 200 people having machetes, guns, stones. I asked my driver not to stop and he told me, "If you run away, they will attack us." And, he slowed down, trying to talk to them -- and the time, you know, in the middle of a mob -- stones, they began throwing them, hitting their machetes on the car. And, we were lucky because 200 meters away, there were two armored vehicles with French soldiers. They drove and contained them with their guns. Those French soldiers asked us to return back to the hotel for safety."

Human rights groups and witnesses report a growing cycle of violence between Christians and Muslims in Bangui and other parts of the CAR.

Amnesty International said Thursday that more than 1,000 people had been killed in Bangui since violence flared earlier this month, after months of political instability.

The U.S. State Department said Friday it remains "deeply concerned about the horrific violence" and noted the U.S. will provide up to $100 million in support for the African Union-led peacekeeping mission in the country.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye 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.

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

In a VOA interview , 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 said those who have committed atrocities must be held accountable.

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