Bangui: The worst violence to hit Central African Republic's capital in a year further deteriorated as more than 500 inmates escaped from a prison and militia fighters looted the offices of international aid organizations, officials said.
The death toll from several days of clashes reached 42 including a teenage boy who was decapitated.
The unrest erupted as transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza was in New York at the UN General Assembly, sparked by the death of a Muslim man whose body was left near a mosque. Muslim militants then attacked a Christian neighborhood with weekend clashes leaving several dozen people dead.
Amnesty International, which has documented the human rights abuses since the conflict first erupted in early 2013 with the overthrow of the president of a decade, said the latest violence had shattered the peace in Central African Republic.
Sectarian violence had ebbed in recent months with the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force and after tens of thousands of Muslims fled the country for their lives, leaving behind a clear Christian majority in Bangui.
"The deadly violence in the capital illustrates that CAR remains in a very fragile state and that immediate action must be taken to enhance the capacity of UN peacekeepers to detect and respond effectively to such incidents before escalation of attacks on civilians," said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International regional director for West and Central Africa.
The jailbreak at Ngaragba took place late yesterday, according to people who saw the men fleeing and spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. The escape also was confirmed by head clerk Thierry Ngoalessio at Bangui's court.
Earlier in the day, a group of protesters met in downtown Bangui in an effort to march on the presidential palace. At least six people died when the group was fired upon and protesters blamed peacekeepers for shooting into the crowd to disperse the demonstration, said Christophe Gazam-Betty, a former communications minister.