A French military vehicle patrols past rebel soldiers in Bangui. Picture: REUTERS
A French military vehicle patrols past rebel soldiers in Bangui. Picture: REUTERS

Bangui  — Fighting between armed groups in Batangafo, Central African Republic, forced more than 10,000 people to take refuge in the town’s hospital, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Thursday.

“Three camps for displaced people, many houses, and the central market were all burned down” during Wednesday’s clashes, said MSF, which supports the hospital there.

“More than 10,000 people took refuge inside the hospital in the northern town,” it said.

Their teams at the facility treated 20 people for wounds, 10 of whom needed emergency surgery. One of them died in hospital from severe burns, the medical charity said in a statement.

Several hundred other people fled into the bush, said MSF.

“The situation in Batangafo remains very tense,” MSF’s head of mission there, Omar Ahmed Abenza, said in the statement.

“The humanitarian situation in this region is becoming increasingly worrying after months of relative calm, and this latest outbreak of violence is likely to further weaken displaced communities that lack food, shelter and other necessities,” he added.

It was not possible on Thursday to establish who was involved in the clashes. But armed groups formerly belonging to the Seleka, a mainly Muslim coalition of rebels who marched on the capital Bangui in 2013, are active in the region. So too is the other main militia, the Christian-dominated Anti-balaka.

The Central African government controls only a small part of its territory, with vast regions under the control of armed groups.

The country of 4.5-million, rich in diamonds and uranium, counts among the world’s poorest.

A Special Criminal Court made up of 25 judges – 13 from the Central African Republic and 12 foreigners − has been set up to decide cases of serious rights violations committed in the country since 2003. It held its first session earlier in October.