1st LD Writethru: Clashes kill about 40 people in Central African Republic capital: local sources

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BANGUI, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- About 40 people have been killed during clashes between business owners and armed rebel groups in the Central African Republic's capital Bangui since Christmas eve, local sources said.

The conflicts took place at the PK5 agglomeration, a trading center in Bangui and also a stronghold for rebel groups. According to local residents who have asked for anonymity, rebel elements demanded "taxes" from business owners on the sale of Christmas toys, which led to a brawl that resulted in the death of a rebel member earlier. This later quickly turned into armed conflict between the two parties.

Gunshots were heard from the PK5 trading center throughout the fighting, which intensified on Thursday morning as rebels burned the stores of some business owners. Calm later returned at the site after a joint intervention by security forces and UN peacekeepers.

No official death toll is available for the moment. Witnesses speak of a total of about 40 people who were killed on both sides.

Economic activities have remained paralyzed at PK5 on Thursday, and the traffic was also disrupted, with traces of burned tires still visible on the streets near the site. Enditem

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