BANGUI : At least 30 people died and dozens more were injured in clashes Tuesday between ex-rebels of the Seleka coalition and local self-defence groups in the Central Africa Republic, a security source said.

“Fierce fighting has claimed at least 30 lives ... but the clashes were still going on as of mid-morning,” the source close to the military high command in Bangui told AFP.

Fighting in the village of Garga, in the country’s northwest, continued into Tuesday morning, the source added.

The self-defence groups began attacking the village on Monday, the source said, leaving three dead and a dozen injured.

They were beaten back by rebels from the former Seleka rebel coalition who distributed weapons to the local population.

Seleka was disbanded in name but continues to operate as a proto-militia in the region.

Garga was “emptied of its residents” who sought refuge in the bush around the area, the source said.

The poor, landlocked nation plunged into chaos earlier this year when a coalition of rebels and armed movements ousted president Francois Bozize in March.

The Central Africa Republic has been shaken by a recent increase in clashes between ex-rebels of the Seleka coalition that led the coup, who are Muslim, and local self-defence groups formed by rural residents who are Christian, in common with around 80 percent of the population.