Calm returns to Central African Republic, tensions remain   2013-12-09 01:21:53            

BANGUI, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Calm has returned to Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, after the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of French and African troops to restore order in a city of chaos.

Residents appeared on the streets of Bangui while French soldiers were patrolling around in armored vehicles.

French military spokesman Gilles Jarron declared the killing of several armed men who "opened fire yesterday (Thursday) morning on French troops deployed in Bangui airport."

Nearly 400 people died in this week's clash between Seleka fighters and supporters of former president Francois Bozize, prompting the French Sangaris operation on Thursday.

Citing the Red Cross sources, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the 394 deaths would have been 5,000 to 10,000 without intervention, indicating a possibility of another genocide after the 1994 Rwanda massacre.

Michel Djotodia, the transitional president who headed Seleka to power in March, announced a three-day national mourning on Saturday. He has also ordered armed men to return to their barracks.

Djotodia has been grappling with control of a loose coalition of Seleka since assuming office in April. Although he officially disbanded the ex-rebel group in a bid to form an army, killing, looting and other forms of violence were reported by international media, mostly linked to former Seleka members.

The worst came between his Muslim-dominated Seleka and pro- Bozize Christians. In the run-up to Thursday's bloodbath in Bangui, around 50 people including five Seleka members were killed in fighting on Oct. 26 in the northern town of Bouar.

At the weekend, witnesses reported Seleka members and their pick-ups in some of the neighborhoods in Bangui, despite Djotodia's order to stay indoors and French soldiers patrolling the city.

Some citizens have expressed fear that Djotodia could not reign in Seleka or clashes lie ahead after a lull with gunmen launching guerrilla-style warfare.

As the situation remains complex and tense, France is deploying 1,600 troops to its former colony instead of the planned 1,200. Its military presence is also witnessed in the hotspots of Bossangoa and Bouar.

Meanwhile, Paris demands the African Union increase the African- led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA) to 6,000 troops. The 2,500-strong African mission currently known as the Peace Consolidation Mission of the Economic Community of Central African States in the CAR (MICOPAX) will become a much stronger MISCA on Dec. 19.

While MICOPAX was scrambling with the situation in Central African Republic, French intervention in January helped its former colony Mali restore control of desert north from rebels.

The government of Central African Republic has expressed hope that France will again help restore control of the situation and avoid humanitarian catastrophe.

For the past year, more than 3,000 people have been reportedly killed in the crisis and 1.6 million others displaced.

The country of 4.6 million population has been haunted by instability and poverty since its independence from France in 1960. It is listed by the United Nations as one of the poorest in the world despite its rich resources.

Editor: yan
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