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Violence in CAR Capital as UN Authorizes More Troops

The U.N. Security Council has authorized deployment of more French and African troops to the Central African Republic, where heavy clashes are reported in the capital, Bangui.

The head of Doctors Without Borders in the CAR, Sylvain Groulx, tells VOA that at least eight people were killed and at least 70 people wounded in Thursday's fighting.

Gunfire was reported in multiple parts of Bangui before dawn. Spokesmen for interim CAR President Michel Djotodia's accused supporters of former president Francois Bozize of launching attacks.

The representative for the U.N. secretary-general in the CAR, Babacar Gaye, said Bangui "has witnessed an organized attack" by unidentified elements, leading to a loss of life and "targeted assassinations."

He said the U.N., France, the African Union and European Union condemn the attack and urged Bangui residents to exercise restraint.

The Security Council resolution allows France and the African Union to bolster their military forces in the CAR and help restore order.

France has pledged to increase its presence in the country to about 1,000 troops, while the AU-led force is due to expand to 3,600 soldiers this month.

In an interview with VOA , deputy AU chairman Erastus Mwencha said his hope is that CAR's unrest can be contained as much as possible until the African forces arrive.

"It is very clear that the country is on the precipice of a major crisis. Many communities are fighting each other and it is extremely worrisome. And, the sooner that we can bring in a stabilization force so that Central Africa can go back and have elections and bring in a government that help the country maintain law and order, the better."

The United Nations measure also calls for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to recommend within three months whether to form a U.N. peacekeeping force, which he has said could involve up to 9,000 troops.

It also includes an arms embargo, and expresses concern about the rise in sectarian violence and the "total breakdown in law and order."

The rebel alliance known as Seleka overthrew president Bozize in March, and a weak interim government has been unable to exert control over the rebel fighters.

The mostly Muslim rebels have since been blamed for a surge in murder, rape, robbery and auto theft. Mostly Christian defense groups known as "anti-balaka" have sprung up in response.

The U.N. said Wednesday gunmen killed at least 12 civilians northwest of Bangui in an attack they said appeared to be the work of Christian militiamen targeting mostly Muslim herders.

The CAR has endured decades of instability since winning independence from France in 1960.

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