Eleven killed, 14 missing in Central African Republic clashes

October 6, 2016 8:40 AM EDT

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BANGUI (Reuters) - Eleven people were killed in clashes in Central African Republic's capital this week set off by the murder of an army officer, the country's United Nation's peacekeeping mission said on Thursday.

Fighting erupted in Bangui's PK5 neighborhood, a Muslim enclave in the majority Christian nation's capital, after Commander Marcel Mombeka, a former aide to ex-President Catherine Samba-Panza, was shot dead there in his car on Tuesday.

Central African Republic has been plagued by inter-religious violence since 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power, prompting reprisals from Christian militias, known as anti-balaka.

"At this stage we think (the victims) are all civilians," said U.N. mission spokesman Herve Verhoosel, excluding the army officer who was killed first. Fourteen people are still missing and another 14 were wounded.

Fighting between armed groups also killed at least six civilians in a north-western province last week, where unidentified assailants fired on U.N. peacekeepers, injuring one of them, Verhoosel said.

Despite a February election widely touted as a step toward reconciliation, rebels and militia fighters still stalk most of the country outside the capital, and clashes are frequent.

This week's fighting is a setback for the PK5 neighborhood, which has been mostly peaceful since Pope Francis visited in November and urged an end to the cycle of violence. Previously, anti-balaka fighters had laid siege to the area and prevented Muslims from leaving.

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Joe Bavier and Raissa Kasolowsky)



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