BANGUI, Central African Republic — Assailants armed with heavy weapons attempted late Thursday to attack the presidential palace as well as the residence of the Central African Republic’s embattled leader, but were pushed back, officials said.

Reached by telephone, Guy Simplice, spokesman for President Michel Djotodia, said there had been heavy fighting near the seat of government, before the army was able to block the aggressors. Although the attackers could not immediately be identified, for weeks there have been rumors that a Christian militia, believed to be backed by the president, who was ousted by Djotodia in a coup nine months ago, would attempt to seize back power.

The heavy arms fire could be heard from the five-star Hotel Ledger, near the center of town, where international journalists are staying. A rocket came over the hotel’s wall, landing on the hotel grounds. As the shooting died down, helicopters could be heard flying overhead.

The events are only the latest indicating that this deeply poor, but until recently relatively stable nation, is tipping into anarchy.

Earlier Thursday, international forces were sent to pick up truckloads of decomposing bodies of slain Muslims, whose remains had been left at a local mosque by their friends and relatives, who were too frightened to be seen burying them in a city where Christian-on-Muslim and Muslim-on-Christian attacks have become daily occurrences.

It also comes a day after the African Union lost six peacekeepers, who were attacked in the Gobongo neighborhood of the capital.