Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Central African Republic: French Troop Reinforcements Arrive in CAR

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch
An injured woman is rushed to the hospital.

France has begun sending more troops into the volatile Central African Republic (CAR), with a plan of doubling forces to 1,200 troops over the next few days.

Officials said the CAR was mostly calm on Friday, a day after about 100 people were killed in heavy fighting in the capital, Bangui.

A movement allied with former president Francois Bozize said it carried out attacks Thursday with the goal of overthrowing rebels who seized power in March.

Meanwhile, French army spokesman Gilles Jarron says French forces killed unidentified gunmen who fired on French positions on Thursday near the Bangui airport.

The incident took place shortly before the U.N. Security Council authorized France and the African Union to strengthen their forces in the CAR.

The AU stabilization force, known as MISCA, is expected to bolster its presence from about 2,500 troops to 3,600.

European powers have announced plans to send additional support to the CAR. Britain announced plans on Friday to send military equipment to the CAR to help France with its effort.

Also, the French News Agency says the European Union has announced plans to provide an additional $68 million in funding.

The CAR spiraled downward into chaos and violence after the rebel movement Seleka took power eight months ago.

The weak interim government was unable to exert control over the rebel fighters, who were blamed for a surge in murder, rape, robbery and auto theft.

U.N. officials have warned the violence has taken on a sectarian tone, with the mostly Muslim Seleka fighters battling mostly Christian defense groups known as anti-balaka, or "anti-machete."

The CAR has endured decades of instability since winning independence from France in 1960.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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InFocus

Hundreds Killed in CAR's Capital

An injured woman is rushed to the hospital.

Violence in the country's capital in the past few days has left nearly 400 people dead, the French embassy in Central African Republic says. Read more »