YAOUNDE, Cameroon — Residents of eastern Cameroon killed several suspected fighters from a Central African Republic rebel group who were trying to carry out a large-scale kidnapping, a local official said Sunday.

The incident occurred Saturday night near the border town of Garoua-Boulai, said Samuel Dieudonne Ivaha Diboua. He said 15 heavily armed men initially seized eight people before the residents, who had armed themselves with guns and machetes, attacked. The eight would-be hostages were released, several fighters were killed and two are being held by the population.

The area is remote, making it impossible to immediately confirm how many fighters were killed and if residents were also killed, Ivaha Diboua said.

"Some residents were wounded in the ambush and we are still finding out if the attackers killed some," he said.

Central African Republic has experienced widespread and brutal fighting since a mostly Muslim coalition of rebel groups known as Seleka toppled the president of a decade in 2013. Widespread human rights abuses committed by Seleka gave rise to Christian militias, unleashing sectarian violence in which thousands have been killed.

Earlier this month, fighters from Central African Republic attacked a bus in Cameroon, kidnapping 16 people including local politicians and clergy. That incident also occurred near the border and the assailants drove the bus back into Central African Republic.

No one has claimed responsibility for either attack, but officials including Ivaha Diboua believe the perpetrators are members of the Democratic Front of the Central African People, a rebel group once linked with Seleka. Last year, the group kidnapped several Cameroonians and a Polish priest in a bid to win the release of their leader from a Cameroonian jail.