12 killed in clashes in C.Africa capital: Red Cross

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Twelve people were killed in clashes in a flashpoint Muslim-majority district in Bangui, the Central African Republic's capital, after a grenade went off, the Red Cross said Thursday.

The UN peacekeeping mission in CAR said it had launched an investigation into the violence, which erupted on Wednesday.

The Red Cross's account of the event was confirmed by Aouad Al Karim, imam of the Ali Babolo mosque in a business quarter of the volatile district.

Several wounded people were being treated at a Red Cross clinic.

The district, PK5, saw clashes between local militia and UN peacekeepers on April 10 that left 27 dead, including a UN soldier, and more than a hundred injured, according to hospital workers.

On May 1, religious-tinged violence spread when armed men stormed a Christian church in the middle of a service, killing worshippers and a priest.

In response, a mob burned a mosque and lynched two people believed to be Muslim.

Twenty-four people died and around 170 were injured.

The CAR is one of the world's poorest and most volatile countries.

It plunged into bloodshed in 2013 after the country's longtime leader Francois Bozize was ousted by a predominantly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka.

Nominally Christian militias called the anti-Balaka emerged in response, accelerating a cycle of sectarian violence.

The former colonial power France intervened militarily from 2013 to 2016 to expel the Seleka, winding down the operation after Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected president.

Touadera governs today thanks to the support of a large UN peacekeeping operation, and can only claim to control a fraction of the country.

The rest is controlled by former rebels and vigilante groups, many of them claiming to act in the name of the Muslim or Christian communities.

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