Thursday, in Bangui, largest city and capital of the Central African Republic, at least 48 people died when Christian militants began violent attacks against the Muslim rebels who ousted President François Bozizé in March, installing Michel Djotodia, the first Muslim leader in the Christian-majority nation.
France has been called upon to steady the violence in the area, and have moved in with reinforcements within hours of the United Nations vote authorizing its troops to try to stabilize the country.
“You have to secure, you have to disarm,” Le Drian told Radio France Internationale. “You have to ensure that the vandals, the bandits, the militias know they can’t use the streets of Bangui for their battles.”
France has hundreds of soldiers and armored carriers and other military vehicles patrolling the streets. Helicopters were to arrive Friday, as are more troops.
But the question on everyone’s mind – does France has the military power to stop these rebels?
The Central African Republic is a landlocked nation consisting of around 5 million people, and has been under attack since their independence in 1960.
The rebels, known as Seleka, began the killing spree in a violent assault on the people of Bangui. People were being shot and hacked, and the violence is beyond anything this country has seen in years.
The violence sparked the rise of Christian vigilante groups. They are accused by human rights groups of committing atrocities against Muslim communities.
“We heard shooting most of the morning — we’ve had to hunker down at home as it’s just too dangerous to go out,” Renee Lambert, the country director for the Baltimore-based aid agency Catholic Relief Services, said in an e-mail. “I’ve been communicating with national staff and colleagues all day and I’ve been told of people being shot and hacked to death, just streets away from where I am. It’s devastating — the worst violence I’ve seen in the 18 months I’ve lived here.”
Another aid agency in this location, “Doctors Without Borders” said that many employees saw at least 50 bodies being taken to the morgue.
After French troops moved in, and began using force to stop the bloody battle, the streets on Friday were quiet other than the military vehicles and armored trucks.
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