UN authorizes French and African troops to protect civilians and restore security in CAR

BY newsdesk  December 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM EDT

French President Francois Hollande announced “immediate” military action in the Central African Republic, AFP reports, as part of a speedy reaction to the U.N Security Council decision Thursday to authorize French and African troops to use force to protect civilians in the country.

France already has 650 soldiers already on the ground in the CAR, with President Hollande promising that number will be “doubled within a few days, if not a few hours.”

At least 105 people have been reported killed Thursday, during fighting between rival militia forces in the nation’s capital, Bengui, according to a Medecins Sans Frontieres aid worker and another witness. AFP reporters counted 54 corpses in a mosque and another 25 lining surrounding streets. Many of the dead are civilians, who appear to have been shot, hacked or clubbed to death.

CAR Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye claimed the violence was an attempt to topple the transitional government, Reuters reports, and urged for the immediate deployment of French troops and an African peacekeeping force.

“This was not just inter-religious fighting: it was a fight to seize power. Its targets were political and military,” Tiangaye said. “It has been established beyond doubt that elements close to Bozize were behind this coup.”

Interim President Michel Djotodia has been unable to control renegade fighters, known by many in the country as Seleka. The rebels are mostly Muslim and are attacking the perceived Christian supporters of the ousted President Francois Bozize, who was removed from power in March.

The ousting and continued violence occurred despite a peace agreement between Bozize and rebel leaders in January, because the rebels accused Bozize of failing to fulfill promises made, The Associated Press reported.

Escalation of violence in the Central African Republic is causing thousands to flee their homes into the wilderness.

We don’t have any security here,” Badenga Fidele, a village leader of Vakap in eastern CAR. “There’s no police, no army, only Seleka people that come here,” he told ITN correspondent Alex Thomson.

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French Foreign Minister warned last week that the troubled nation was “on the verge of genocide.”

Read more: Malnutrition, infection rife in Central African Republic as violence escalates