Seleka open fire on CAR protesters


Rebels of the Seleka coalition stand on April 6, 2013 near looted cars on the grounds of one of the houses of ousted Central African President Franois Bozize in the northern Bangui neighborhood of Sassara.

BANGUI - Members of Central African Republic ex-rebel group Seleka opened fire Wednesday on a crowd protesting the kidnapping of a soldier, killing at least one person and wounding several, police said.

The protest erupted after members of Seleka, which overthrew longtime president Francois Bozize in March, abducted a soldier in the Fatima neighbourhood of Bangui, the country&39;s capital, a police source said.

"This kidnapping caused residents to rise up and protest by putting up barricades," the source said.

"At least one person was killed and several others wounded by bullets" when ex-rebels opened fire on the crowd, he added.

The army and members of an African force tasked with stabilising the country responded to the violence but retreated after they too came under fire, the source said.

President Michel Djotodia, who led the Seleka rebellion, also went to the scene but left after protesters threw stones at him, the source said.

The Central African Republic has been plagued by instability since the coup by Seleka, a coalition of rebel groups.

Djotodia - who took office as transitional president on August 18 -- has officially dissolved Seleka, but members of the group have continued to stage attacks and robberies.

Self-defence groups have organised against Seleka attacks in some regions, clashing with the mainly Muslim ex-rebels in the 80-percent Christian country - violence that has caused tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.