The UN said one civilian was killed and dozens of peacekeepers, civilians and militia fighters were injured during an operation against armed groups in Central African Republic (CAR) on Sunday.

Witnesses said heavy gunfire erupted in Bangui’s PK5 neighourhood – a Muslim enclave in the majority Christian city, at around 2 a.m., (0100 GMT), as peacekeepers and domestic security forces moved in to dismantle militia bases there.

Clashes continued into Sunday morning and smoke rose from the neighbourhood as residents fled to safety in other parts of the capital.

“We were sleeping at around 2.15 when we heard heavy and light weapons fire. This morning we saw (UN) and CAR soldiers in our alley,” said PK5 resident Abdoulaye Hamat.

“They pulled out and we don’t exactly know what happened.”

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Herve Verhoosel, a spokesman for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA)
peacekeeping mission, said 11 peacekeepers were wounded.

He said around 20 people, both civilians and fighters, were also injured.

It was unclear if the government forces involved in the operation suffered casualties.

Verhoosel said eight fighters had been arrested on Sunday.