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A man gestures with a knife as a crowd barricades a street in BanguiReuters

At least 75 people have died during clashes between warring sides in the city of Boda, Central African Republic, a local priest has said.

The clashes involved residents armed with guns and machetes, who also set more than 30 houses alight. 

"Instead of thinking only of Bangui, people must also think of what's happening in the countryside because what we are living through in these communities is horrific,'' Father Cassien Kamatari told the BBC.

At least 30 people were killed last week in continuing bloodshed.

Heavily armed militia are reportedly butchering people for ethnic reasons, even in the presence of peacekeeping forces.

There are currently 1,600 French and 4,000 African troops in CAR trying to end the fighting.

The CAR conflict which started last December has pitted Muslim Seleka against Christian Anti-Bakala militias who have engaged in a tit-for-tat violence that has resulted in over 1,000 deaths and left nearly a million (20% of the population) displaced.

The country has been in chaos since last March, when a coup d'etat staged by the Muslim Seleka group ousted the then president Francois Bozize, from CAR's Christian majority , and installed the first Muslim president, Michel Djotodia.

Djotodia recently resigned, after facing pressure from the international community for failing to halt the bloodshed. Djotodia has since fled to Benin and many other Seleka commanders have been fleeing the country, fearing imminent defeat.

The election of the new president Catherine Samba-Panza, who is seen as politically neutral, could represent the best chance of ending the conflict. Samba-Panza, who is the first female president of CAR, was chosen unanimously by both sides.

"I call on my children, especially the anti-Balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka - they should not have fear. I don't want to hear any more talk of murders and killings,'' Samba-Panza said. 

Crimes against humanity 

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A boy stands at a former shop as he watches burning houses in Bossangoa, north of the capital Bangui January 2, 2014.Reuters

Amnesty International have highlighted crimes against humanity being committed by both warring sides including extra-judicial executions, mutilation and rape.

"This is the situation, you have people who knew each other for a long long time killing each other; using machetes to make less noise," Amnesty said.

The UN said last month that it believed at least 10,000 troops may be required to end the unrest. A UN humanitarian official warned against the risk of genocide as the conflict "has all the elements that we have seen elsewhere, in places like Rwanda and Bosnia. The elements are there, the seeds are there, for a genocide".

EU foreign ministers have agreed to send up to 1,000 troops to help end the violence.