Christians and Muslims were living peacefully here. It is the French who have created this violence--Â Seleka spokesman Ahmad NijadÂ Ibrahim
Killing follows clashes in northern CAR
At least one person killed and others injured as French forces and crowds clash over disarming of Seleka rebels.
Witnesses and hospital staff said the violence broke out on Thursday whenÂ the French peacekeeping troopsÂ tried to disarm a Seleka rebel.
A Reuters news agency witness saw four people with injuries, including oneÂ seriously hurt by shooting that appeared to come from FrenchÂ forces deployed in the “Sangaris” peacekeeping operation.
However, a Seleka spokesperson told Reuters that French troops openedÂ fire on a crowd of people, demonstrating against a decision made by peacekeepers to disarm the Seleka rebels.
Seleka rebels allege that up to three civilians were killed and six others injured in the violence.
It was not possible to independentlyÂ verify this claim.
A French military official denied troops killed civiliansÂ and said they fired warning shots in the air after coming under
fire in Bambari, the headquarters of the mostly-Muslim rebelÂ Seleka coalition, which controls the northeast of the country.
Following a meeting on Wednesday, the peacekeeping troopsÂ had demanded that members of the Seleka hand over weapons.
Crowds of civilians carrying machetes and hunting riflesÂ took to the streets early on Thursday in protest to the decision and blockedÂ roads in the centre of Bambari with market stalls and furniture.
Muslims in Bambari are unwilling to disarm after similarÂ moves in the capital Bangui led to attacks on Muslims there.
“There were two deaths and a third person who was seriouslyÂ wounded has now died,” said Seleka spokesman Ahmad NijadÂ Ibrahim. “Christians and Muslims were living peacefully here. ItÂ is the French who have created this violence.”
French forces shut off the main road leading southwest fromÂ Bambari to Bangui as a precautionary measure.
“International forces are in Bambari to applyÂ confidence-building measures which forbid armed groups fromÂ circulating with their weapons in the town,” said a FrenchÂ military official who declined to be named.
The town was still tense at nightfall and occasionalÂ shooting could be heard. Fires burned at barricades and people
walked around armed with bows and arrows and machetes.
The former French colony descended into chaos after SelekaÂ rebels seized power in March last year and their attacks on theÂ majority Christian population set off a wave of revenge attacks.
The coalition was forced to relinquish power underÂ international pressure in January.
Since then, ChristianÂ militias known as “anti-Balaka” have mounted widespread attacksÂ on Muslims.
More than 2,000 people have been killed in the violence andÂ a million of the country’s 4.5 million people have beenÂ forced to leave their homesÂ despite the presence of several thousandÂ African peacekeepers and European Union and French troops.