BANGUI: At least six people were killed and 60 wounded on Tuesday in clashes between militia and security forces in the capital of the Central African Republic, sources said.
The fighting erupted in Bangui's PK5 district -- a mainly Muslim flashpoint area where more than two dozen people were killed last month in an episode involving UN peacekeepers that unleashed a surge of anger.
Security sources in PK5 said the fighting started after men in a militia group which is led by an individual calling himself Force rammed through a roadblock.
Security guards opened fire, and the militiamen responded.
The fatalities included a priest named Toungoumale Baba, who died in the nearby district of Fatima, a church source said. There were no immediate details about the circumstances of his death.
Angry crowds gathered at various points in the city, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
The incident came after hours-long clashes in PK5 on April 10 killed 28 people, including a UN peacekeeper, and left more than 100 wounded.
According to the UN mission MINUSCA, the fighting began when a joint patrol of Rwandan UN troops and the Central African army (FACA) was attacked on the district's outskirts as they pursued a sweep against militia groups.
In a dramatic protest, local people brought in 17 bloodied corpses with bullet wounds and laid them in front of the UN base in the centre of Bangui.
They said the fatalities were simply unarmed civilians -- a version contested by MINUSCA, which is struggling to overcome accusations of inaction and sexual abuse by some of its troops in the past.
One of the world's poorest and most unstable countries, the CAR spiralled into bloodshed after longtime leader Francois Bozize was overthrown in 2013 by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka.
France intervened militarily from 2013 to 2016 to push out the Seleka, winding down the operation after Bozize's successor, Faustin-Archange Touadera, was elected president.
But despite UN backing, Touadera can only claim to control a fraction of the country -- the rest is in the sway of ex-rebels and vigilante militias.
Tensions within the PK5 district, a major economic hub, have been running high for months, stoked by resentment among traders over demands to pay protection money to so-called self-defence groups.