20 killed in grenade attack on C.Africa funeral service

At least 20 people died when extremists threw hand grenades at a crowd of mourners during a funeral service in the Central African Republic capital Bangui overnight, the government said on Friday.

"Around 11:00 pm (Thursday) a group of extremists, well known to the police, threw hand grenades at a crowd that was attending a wake," Public Security Minister Denis Wangao Kizimale told national radio.

"At least 20 people were killed and 11 others wounded and are currently undergoing treatment in hospital," he added.

A source close to the families at the funeral service told AFP that a pregnant women and several children were among the victims.

"The government condemns this odious act. Already, an inquiry has been opened to determine the circumstances of this crime. Those responsible will be found and brought to justice," said Kizimale.

Members of the local community held an angry street protest on Friday, blaming the attack on Muslims, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

Even before Thursday night's incident, a recent uptick in violence had seen around 20 people killed in Bangui since Saturday.

Government forces and international peacekeepers have repeatedly clashed with the mostly Christian anti-balaka militia and people looting Muslim areas in the capital.

The former French colony was thrown into chaos after rebels from the mainly Muslim Seleka seized power in a March 2013 coup.

They were forced out of power in January, sparking retaliatory violence against Muslims that has prompted the United Nations to speak of fears of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Thousands have been killed and around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people displaced in the unrest.