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Peackeepers, French Troops Caught in CAR Violence


French troops and African peacekeepers have come under fire in the capital of the Central African Republic. It's reportedly the heaviest fighting since French troops arrived last December.

According to a local priest, clashes between Muslims and Christians have left at least 75 people dead in a single town.

Gunfire now erupts daily in the capital city of Bangui. One woman discovered that inching her way to shelter is dangerous -- getting caught in the crossfire could cost her life.

Sixteen-hundred French soldiers and 5,000 African peacekeepers are there trying to reverse an escalation of bloodshed.

After the Christian president was overthrown last March in a coup, Muslim militants, known as Selekas, burned churches and carried out a number of massacres against Christians.

Since the Muslim coup leader stepped down from the presidency, Christian militias, known as the anti-Balakas, continue to take revenge on Muslims, killing them and looting and destroying their homes and mosques.

One Muslim man explained he's not part of the Seleka militia. He's just fighting to defend his home and his neighborhood.

Another Muslim man said he's ready to die for Islam because the civil war "is not just politics; people are attacking Muslims and are against Islam."

Hundreds of Muslims have fled to mosques and Christians to churches for protection.

Interim President Samba Panza received an enthusiastic welcome from locals as she visited displaced people receiving refuge at a church compound.

With no end in sight to the attacks and counter-attacks, one reporter asked her, "What does the country need now?"

"Security," she responded.

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