central african republic
A French soldier from the EUFOR-RCA European Union military operation in the Central African Republic Reuters

Violence escalated in Bangui, CAR's capital as prisoners escaped from a jail and militia fighters looted international aid organisations. UNICEF said children were targeted, highlighting the murders of three boys aged 16 and 17, including one who was decapitated.

The jailbreak at Ngaragba took place on Monday (28 September), according to eyewitnesses who saw men running from the prison. The escape was also confirmed by head clerk Thierry Ngoalessio at Bangui's court. "There is no one in the prison," said a senior gendarmerie source.

The deadly conflict was ignited over the weekend by the death of a Muslim man whose corpse was found near a mosque. Muslim militants then targeted a Christian neighbourhood which left several dozen people dead, according to AP.

Deadly clashes continued on Monday night, despite an overnight curfew with gunshots heard. Thousands marched to within 100 metres (300 ft) of the presidential palace to call for a bigger role for the army which was sidelined when mostly Muslim northern rebels, known as Seleka, took control of the country in 2013.

At least six people died when the crowd was fired upon and protesters accused peacekeepers for shooting into the crowd to disperse the demonstration, said Christophe Gazam-Betty, a former communications minister.

On Sunday, Doctors without Borders (MSF) said in a statement: "In total MSF received 75 wounded patients, and the teams stabilised patients and performed 15 surgeries."

The city of Bangui is patrolled by French and UN troops. The UN mission known as MINUSCA denied that its peacekeepers were to blame. "MINUSCA protected the presidency but did not kill protesters," Myriam Dessables, a spokeswoman for the mission, told AP.

"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 U.N. 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.

Voters are due to elect a new president and parliament on 18 October to replace an interim government led by Catherine Samba-Panza. Despite electoral preparations falling behind and renewed violence in Bangui, Dominique Said Paguindji, CAR's security minister said the polls would go ahead on time.