Gunfire echoes across Central African Republic capital hours ahead of UN Security Council vote

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Heavy gunfire is echoing across the capital of Central African Republic amid reported clashes between the mostly Muslim armed fighters who control the country and Christians who support the ousted president.

An Associated Press correspondent in Bangui said Thursday that the fighting erupted around 6 a.m.

Central African Republic has been controlled by a coalition of rebel groups from the north known as Seleka since March. The fighters have been blamed for scores of human rights abuses. Anger over the killings of civilians has fueled an opposition militia known as the anti-balaka — balaka meaning machete.

The U.N. Security Council is set to authorize increased military action by France and African troops to try to end the near-anarchy.