Fred DuFour / AFP – Getty Images
People welcome French soliders arriving from Cameroon in Bouar, Central African Republic, on Saturday.
Ongoing violence in the Central African Republic that has left at nearly 400 people dead in three days is prompting the deployment of additional peacekeeping troops to the violence-torn nation, bringing the total number of troops there to 6,000.
Saturday was the third day of attacks on civilians in the capital Bangui as inter-communal violence escalated. The conflict has given rise to armed groups and bloodshed between Muslim and Christian factions as increasing political conflict between the ex-rebel group known as Seleka who now controls the government and the Christian anti-government group known as anti-Balaka.
As a result of the recent attacks, France announced on Saturday that that the African Union will increase its peacekeeping force to 6,000, up from original projections of 3,600 troops.
France itself is raising its deployment to its former colony to 1,600, an increase of 400, according to a statement from the office of French President Francois Hollande. The decision to increase the troops came following a summit on African security and meetings between regional leaders on the recent violence.
"This force is going to deploy as quickly as possible and everywhere there are risks for the population, with the African forces that are present — currently 2,500 soldiers," Hollande said in a statement. "In what I believe will be a very short period we will be able to stop all exactions and massacres."
About 2,500 soldiers are currently on the ground in Bangui, patrolling the capital.
The United Nations said in a statement that the opposing factions had been raiding homes and killing civilians. Hundreds of homes were reported burned in the town of Bossangoa after an offensive by anti-Balaka elements was repelled, the UN said in a statement.
The killings are just the most recent example of the violence that has plagued the Central African Republic after Seleka overthrew the government of former President Francois Bozize in March and installed their leader, Michel Djotodia as interim president.
The U.N. has said that the months of violence has left approximately 400,000 displaced and another 69,800 exiled in surrounding countries.
On Thursday, anti-Balaka forces staged a coordinated attack in Bangui on several mostly Muslim neighborhoods, the Associated Press reported. Seleka then retaliated in Christian neighborhoods leading to some of the worst violence since the regime came to power.
“The latest reports from the ground are grim, indicating deepening conflict between Muslim and Christian communities and armed groups, with tragic consequences,” UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon said a statement issued by his spokesman.
On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council authorized France to use deadly force if necessary in its attempts to stop the violence.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Emmanuel Braun / Reuters
A French soldier patrols in Bangui, Central African Republic, on Saturday.
First published December 7 2013, 1:08 PM