Bangui: At least eight people were killed in mob violence in Central African Republic`s capital Bangui on Sunday as senior officers from the Seleka rebel movement fled the city, according to the country`s Red Cross and a rights group.
Almost one million people, or a quarter of the population, have been displaced by fighting that began when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian former French colony in March.
Christian self-defense groups, known as "anti-balaka", or anti-machete, have since taken up arms against them.
The United Nations estimates that more than 2,000 people have been killed since March in tit-for-tat bloodshed that a French intervention force and thousands of African peacekeepers have failed to stop.
"Today there were eight dead. Only one was shot. The rest were killed with primitive weapons. We even had one woman whose throat was slit," Antoine Mbao Bogo, president of the country`s Red Cross, told Reuters.
Seven others were injured in Sunday`s violence, he said.
It was not immediately clear why the rebel leaders, who were travelling in a convoy of more than two dozen vehicles, left Bangui or where they were heading.
Central African Republic swore in new interim president Catherine Samba-Panza on Thursday, replacing Michel Djotodia, a former Seleka leader, who stepped down on January 10 under intense international pressure.
A heavily armed Seleka convoy left Bangui on Sunday, escorted by Chadian soldiers from the country`s African Union peacekeeping force, a human rights campaigner told Reuters.
"In the middle of the convoy, I saw several Seleka generals including the head of military intelligence," said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, who saw the convoy 60 kilometers north of the city. "It feels a bit like the endgame for Seleka in Bangui."
Many Seleka fighters, a large number of whom came from neighboring Chad and Sudan, have abandoned the capital in recent months following the deployment of French troops.