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Attacks in Central African Republic Kill 18

FILE - Members of the anti-Balaka, a Christian militia, patrol outside the Central African Republic village of Zawa April 8, 2014.
At least 18 people have been killed in retaliatory clashes between Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic.

Witnesses and security officials say the violence began Monday near the central town of Bambari and continued into Tuesday.

The unrest began after gunmen claiming to be from the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia attacked Muslims in a village, witnesses say, adding that most of those killed were members of the Muslim Fulani minority.

In a report released Tuesday, the International Federation for Human Rights said the anti-Balaka and mostly Muslim Seleka rebels "mirror one another in the horror of the acts they have perpetrated" in the C.A.R.

The federation said it found evidence of crimes including extrajudicial executions, rape and the recruitment of child soldiers during recent fact-finding missions.

The human rights group urged the C.A.R. government to set up a special unit to investigate the alleged atrocities, which it said constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The country descended into chaos last year after Seleka rebels toppled President Francois Bozize. Attacks and looting by Seleka forces sparked retaliatory attacks by the anti-Balaka.

A contingent of about 2,000 French troops and 6,000 African soldiers has struggled in efforts to help the government restore order.

The U.N. Security Council has approved an expanded peacekeeping force of 12,000 troops for the country. The force is set to become operational in September.