Central African Republic clashes kill 13

A view of the Mpoko camp in Bangui, on November 26, 2015 (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - An attack by Muslim ex-Seleka rebels on a refugee camp in the Central African Republic late Thursday left 13 dead including five combatants, a UN spokesman said.

A UN peacekeeper was slightly wounded when the MINUSCA force intervened at the Ngakobo camp near the central city of Bambari, where tensions have been running high after several incidents.

"The attack resulted in eight displaced persons being killed and several wounded, while five ex-Seleka were also killed and two injured," said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

Also on Thursday, Christian anti-balaka rebels attacked a commercial convoy traveling to Bangui from Bambari and looted a truck.

UN peacekeepers rushed to the scene, forcing the rebels to withdraw and apprehending the alleged leader of the group, Haq said.

The Central African Republic is preparing to hold a referendum on December 13 on a proposed new constitution ahead of nationwide polls on December 27.

The elections are shaping up as a major test of CAR's progress in its political transition after bloodletting between Christians and Muslims following a coup in 2013.

The country descended into chaos after the coup against longtime leader Francois Bozize, with Christian anti-balaka militias battling Muslim Seleka rebels.

Clashes persist between the two communities in a nation awash with weapons.

Pope Francis made a high-profile visit to the country last week to press for national reconciliation, declaring that Christians and Muslims were "brothers" who must reject hatred.