Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

France, AU send more troops to Central African Republic

BANGUI, Central African Republic — France and the African Union on Saturday announced plans to deploy several thousand more troops into embattled Central African Republic. Thousands of Christians fearing reprisal attacks sought refuge from the Muslim former rebels who now control the country after days of violence left nearly 400 people dead — and possibly more.

French armored personnel carriers and troops from an AU-backed peacekeeping mission roared at high speed down Bangui's major roads, as families carrying palm fronds pushed coffins in carts on the road's shoulder. In a sign of the mounting tensions, others walking briskly on the streets carried bow-and-arrows and machetes.

Concluding an aptly timed and long-planned conference on African security in Paris, President Francois Hollande said France was raising its deployment to 1,600 on Saturday — 400 more than first announced. Later, after a meeting of regional nations about Central African Republic, his office said that African Union nations agreed to increase their total deployment to 6,000 — up from about 2,500 now, and nearly double the projected rollout of 3,600 by year-end.

Amid new massacres on Thursday, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution that allows for a more muscular international effort to quell months or unrest in the country. Troops from France, the country's former colonial overseer, were patrolling roads in Bangui and fanning out into the troubled northwest on Saturday.

"This force is going to deploy as quickly as possible and everywhere there are risks for the population, with the African forces that are present — currently 2,500 soldiers," Hollande said, referring to the increased French presence. "In what I believe will be a very short period we will be able to stop all exactions and massacres."

In an interview with France-24 TV, Hollande said the AU reinforcements would arrive "in the coming days," without specifying. He said 1,600 French troops was "enough; there won't be more," and added that they would remain as planned for about six months — though a residual force of 500 to 600 might stay thereafter.

Word of the bigger deployments came as human rights groups continued the grisly business of counting and collecting bodies of those killed in recent massacres. The death toll in the capital from the recent fighting rose on Saturday to 394, said Antoine Mbao Bogo of the local Red Cross.

One of the world's poorest countries, Central African Republic has been wracked for decades by coups and rebellions. In March, a Muslim rebel alliance known as Seleka overthrew the Christian president of a decade.

At that time, religious ideology played little role in the power grab. The rebels soon installed Michel Djotodia as president, though he exerted little control over forces on the ground. He has since formally disbanded the Seleka coalition, but the former rebels now consider themselves the army.

Now, sectarian strife has grown. Christian fighters known as the anti-balaka, who oppose Djotodia, descended on the capital in a coordinated attack on several mostly Muslim neighborhoods. Residents of Christian neighborhoods said Seleka have counter-attacked.

People gather in the Don Bosco Center outside Bangui, Central African Republic, Saturday because they fear reprisal attacks from the Muslim ex-rebels who control the nation.

Associated Press

People gather in the Don Bosco Center outside Bangui, Central African Republic, Saturday because they fear reprisal attacks from the Muslim ex-rebels who control the nation.

France, AU send more troops to Central African Republic 12/07/13 [Last modified: Saturday, December 7, 2013 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal

    K12

    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]


  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.