At least two more people died in violent clashes between militias in the Central African Republic's capital Bangui on Wednesday. Since Saturday, at least 39 people have been killed in fighting between Christian, Muslim and other religious and ethnic groups in the city.
The situation was relatively calm on Wednesday, with UN and French peacekeepers patrolling the streets.
That spate of violence broke out on Saturday after claims that a motorcycle-taxi driver was murdered in the capital's Muslim-majority PK-5 neighborhood. Around a hundred were injured when the unrest spread to other districts.
The recent spike in violence has raised doubts about the interim government's plans to hold elections on October 18 and restore democracy in the impoverished African country, which has been experiencing unrest for more than two years.
Catherine Samba-Panza, CAR's interim president, returned to the capital on Wednesday, leaving the UN General Assembly in New York session earlier than planned.
In a statement released prior to her return on Tuesday, Samba-Panza said she would not be intimidated by the violence. She called on people to show restraint and called on international forces in the country to protect civilians and help track down instigators of the violence.
Risk of civil war
Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum, the United Nations' independent expert on the former French colony, warned the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday that CAR was facing a serious risk of civil war.
"I fear that if this violence is not rapidly contained, targeted attacks based on ethnicity and religion inevitably risk increasing and leading to a real civil war," she said.
Bocoum added that "disarming armed groups must be an absolute priority" ahead of the general elections.
Meanwhile, aid groups said Wednesday they needed access to Bangui's neighborhoods to help the wounded and recover the dead bodies.
shs/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)