7 December 2013

Central African Republic: All 1,200 French Troops in Place in CAR

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

All 1,200 French troops pledged to arrive in the Central African Republic (CAR) have arrived, ahead of schedule, France's defence Ministry announced on Saturday.

French soldiers received a warm welcome in the west of the strife-torn country.

"We are 24 hours ahead of schedule with the total deployment," a ministry official said, after a 200-strong contingent of reinforcements crossed the border from neighbouring Cameroon on Saturday.

France already had several hundred troops protecting its nationals in the county before the UN Security Council mandated it to send more to supplement the Misca African force.

Thousands of people gave the troops arriving from Cameroon an enthusiastic welcome, shouting, banging saucepans and tooting moped horns, as they passed through the west of the country to the region's main town, Bouar.

Seleka militias had already left the town before the French arrived.

The Christian population were more enthusiastic than Muslims, according to reporters.

The conflict has taken on a sectarian aspect in a country that had not seen inter-religious violence until the Seleka ousted former president François Bozizé.

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