French army takes on CAR fighters

2013-12-06 17:02


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangui - French troops have killed several armed fighters in the Central African Republic as Paris on Friday rolled out a UN-backed operation to restore security after a bloodbath that left dozens of bodies strewn across the capital.

The French army said its soldiers killed the armed men on Thursday in a dawn clash near the airport of the capital Bangui.

"An armed pick-up opened fire three times in the direction of civilians and French troops. After the third time, we retaliated and destroyed the vehicle," a spokesperson for the French general staff said.

On Friday, military aircarft overflew Bangui, a day after at least 140 civilians were killed in the capital - many clubbed or hacked to death in violence that erupted amid international warnings that the country risked sectarian massacres.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has descended into chaos since a motley coalition of rebel fighters known as Seleka overthrew the government in March and installed their own chief, Michel Djotodia, as president - the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian country.

It was the latest in a string of rebellions and coups in the impoverished, strife-torn country, where life expectancy is 49 years and the average income is less than $2 a day.

Reports from UN staff on the ground indicate the situation remains "very tense" in Bangui, with ongoing sectarian violence, said Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UN refugee agency UNHCR.

"We are hearing worrying reports of sectarian and revenge attacks between neighbours throughout Bangui," Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

He said "a growing number of people" were fleeing over the southern border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, with close to 700 arriving on Thursday alone.

It has not yet been possible to establish a definitive death toll from the latest violence, which erupted Wednesday night, but the UNHCR spokesman said that according to UN and media reports, at least 140 civilians had been killed.

Night of brutal fighting

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported 92 people dead and 155 wounded over two days at one hospital alone.

After a night of brutal Christian-Muslim fighting Wednesday and early Thursday, AFP reporters in Bangui counted 54 corpses in a mosque and another 25 bodies in surrounding streets.

A spokesperson for UN human rights agency OHCHR, Rupert Colville, said the violence was allegedly started by self-defence militias formed to protect civilians from attacks by the Seleka ex-rebels.

"In retaliation, Muslim civilians were allegedly given weapons by the ex-Seleka forces and retaliatory attacks between Christians and Muslim communities were reported in numerous locations in the capital. Ex-Seleka soldiers reportedly executed 10 people in a hospital," he said in Geneva.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the goal of the French military mission, which got the unanimous blessing of the 15-member UN Security Council on Thursday, was to provide "a minimum of security to allow for a humanitarian intervention to be put in place".

The operation in the former French colony will include "securing roads and main routes to allow people to be able to at least go to the hospital," he said.

President Francois Hollande's government has said it expects the operation to last four to six months.

In Paris, French and African leaders opened a mini-summit Friday expected to discuss the crisis.


'Doctors desperate to get to hospitals'

"Bangui is effectively in shut-down," said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International's CAR expert, who is currently in the city, where Djotodia has extended a curfew by four hours from 18:00 pm to 06:00.

"Doctors are telling us that they are desperate to get to the hospitals to reach people in need of life-saving surgery, but they cannot do so, due to the insecurity that has swept the city," Mukosa said in a statement.

France has begun deploying an additional 600 troops, doubling the force it already had in and around the capital and bolstering the African military force MISCA.

Britain has dispatched a C17 transport plane to support the French operation, London said. Germany also offered to help by providing Airbus A310 transport planes to carry troops and equipment to a neighbouring country, a defence ministry spokesman said.

The European Union has unblocked $68m to aid the operation, said EU Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso.

Read more on:    msf  |  unhcr  |  eu  |  central african republic  |  central africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia Lumia 800

The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design, ...

From R2395.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.