Heavy weapons and small arms were reportedly fired as skirmishes kicked off in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui in the early hours of Thursday morning.
According to a Reuters reporter on the ground, it remained unclear who was behind the firefight as residents “panicked and former rebels controlling the city scrambled fighters in the direction of the gunfire.”
In March, a rebel coalition known as the Séléka toppled the Central African Republic’s government, sending the mineral-rich yet economically impoverished country sliding towards anarchy.
In the ensuing months, incidents of sectarian violence have been on the rise, pitting Muslims against Christians, while tens of thousands have been displaced. With more than a million people in dire need of food, analysts covering the region warn of possible genocide unless measures are taken to stabilize the country.
To that end, the French government has promised to double their troops in its former colony, while the U.N. Security Council is set to vote on a resolution in New York later on Thursday. If passed, both French and African Union troops would be deployed to help bring order, and an arms embargo would be introduced.