UN sends French, African troops into Central African Republic as violence continues

Clashes broke out Thursday between militias representing majority Christian population and Muslim fighters.

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday authorized French and African troops in the Central African Republic to use force to protect civilians, as fresh violence claimed at least 80 lives in the lawless country.

The unanimously adopted resolution also authorizes the forces to impose an arms embargo on the country and asked the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish an inquiry into human rights abuses.

At least 80 people were killed in fierce fighting that broke out on Thursday in Bangui, capital of the landlocked, mineral-rich nation of 4.6 million people.

Bangui was repeatedly attacked by supporters of ousted president, Francois Bozize, on Thursday ahead of the U.N. vote officially mandating the intervention of the French and Africa forces.

Mr. Bozize was removed in March by Seleka rebels, plunging the country into chaos. The group was lead by Michel Djotodia, who now serves as interim head of state.

Mr. Djotodia has failed to control his mostly Muslim fighters, who have preyed upon the majority Christian population, unleashing tit-for-tat killings, Reuters news agency reported. Rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.

About 10 per cent of the country’s population has fled their homes, the U.N. says.

France’s deployment in the country, its former colony, would total around 1,200, with 600 troops already in place, French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said.

On Thursday, 250 French troops were sent out into the streets of Bangui as violence began.

The U.N. council authorized “the French forces in the CAR, within the limits of their capacities and areas of deployment, and for a temporary period, to take all necessary measures to support MISCA.”

The council also asked the secretary general, Mr. Ban to “undertake expeditiously contingency preparations and planning for the possible transformation into a United Nations peacekeeping operations, stressing that a future decision of this council would be required to establish such a mission.”

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