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20 killed, 480 houses razed in Central African Republic attack


08:46, April 25, 2013

BANGUI, April 24 (Xinhua) -- At least 20 people were killed and more than 480 houses burnt in Central African Republic's central north in an attack by militants of Seleka, which seized power on March 24, according to an independent source in the capital Bangui.

Speaking to Ndekeluka, an independent radio in Bangui, the source said the incident happened between Sunday night and Monday morning in the region of Nana-Gribizi, describing the raid as a "punitive operation" by elements of the ex-rebel coalition, which toppled Francois Bozize's regime last month.

Contacted on Tuesday by Xinhua, Central African Republic's Communication Minister Christophe Gazam Betty denied that the killing could have been carried out by Seleka members.

He however admitted that a few days ago, some houses were burnt in Kaga-Bandoro village.

Although Seleka has put the country under an 18-month transition pending an election, its fighters are linked by many to insecurity and chaos reported since its takeover, which is still considered a coup by African countries.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Betty acknowledged that it was possible that the members of Seleka, who pushed their leader Michel Djotodia to power, were involved in numerous cases of looting and killing across the country.

He said the authorities have plans to start placing the fighters in camps for control of weapons.

On two occasions last week, clashes between Seleka fighters and militia close to the former regime left at least 20 people dead in Bangui.

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