BANGUI, Central African Republic : Heavy gunfire was heard for several hours late Thursday at a military base near the capital of strife-torn Central African Republic, a French military source told AFP.

“There was automatic gunfire, with heavy artillery, during several hours at the army base at the airport,” the source said on condition of anonymity. “It’s confusing, it happened at night. For the moment, we don’t know what happened.”

The military base at the Mpoko airport in the north of Bangui hosts French and African Union troops that have been sent to the country under a UN mandate to try and stop the chaos in the notoriously unstable country. Thursday’s gunfire left some AU troops wounded, a source with the force told AFP, without providing further details. No French soldiers were reported wounded.

The Central African Republic spiralled into chaos after a March coup in which the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew president Francois Bozize.

Rebel leader Michel Djotodia was installed as the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian nation and disbanded the Seleka, but many rebels went rogue, spreading terror which government forces could not stop.

Months of brutal massacres, rapes and looting have followed, with locals forming Christian vigilante groups in response to the atrocities.

Eventually, the AU force in CAR is due to be 6,000 strong at full strength, working alongside some 1,600 French troops.