Bangui, CAR: Muslim rebels stormed a Catholic church compound in the capital of Central African Republic on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people in a hail of gunfire and grenades, witnesses said.
The attack on the compound at the Church of Fatima, where hundreds of civilians had sought refuge from the violence ravaging Bangui`s streets, is the largest blamed on Muslim fighters since their Seleka coalition was ousted from power nearly five months ago.
Fears escalated late today that the new bloodshed would spark reprisal attacks on the city`s few remaining Muslims, most of whom fled the city in a mass exodus earlier this year that the UN has described as ethnic cleansing.
"We were in the church when were heard the shooting outside," the Rev Freddy Mboula told The Associated Press. "There were screams and after 30 minutes of gunfire there were bodies everywhere."
At least 30 people were killed in the attack, according to another priest, the Rev Paul Emile Nzale.
An AP reporter counted at least 20 bodies taken to a hospital in the city because the morgue was not in service. At a second hospital, a doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters confirmed that at least three other bodies had been brought there.
Most of the sectarian violence in Bangui since January has been Christian militia fighters targeting Muslims, and there were already fears that today`s attack could prompt deadly reprisals.