Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

  • France sending military unit to Air Algérie plane crash site

    Read more

  • Air Algérie crash: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets with Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to easy victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European aviation agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

Africa

VIDEO: On patrol with the French army in the CAR

© FRANCE 24

Video by Matthieu MABIN , Alexander TURNBULL

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-08

Around 1,600 French soldiers have been deployed in a mission to try to secure the Central African Republic (CAR). FRANCE 24’s Matthieu Mabin and Alexander Turnbull join a French patrol on the streets of the CAR capital of Bangui.

A little girl in a faded red tank-top screamed in anguish when she caught sight of French troops at a compound in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.

“They killed my parents. We have become orphans,” she cried before sinking to her knees in despair. “They killed my father. Why? Why? He didn’t do anything.”

Over the past few months, the Central African Republic (CAR) has witnessed the sort of brutality and horror the international community had hoped was a thing of the past.

Casualty figures in the remote, lawless country with a population of about 5 million people have been hard to come by. But on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that in the past three days alone, nearly 400 people were killed in Bangui.

Traumatised by the violence, Central Africans have welcomed French troops who arrived in the former French colony to assist African Union forces attempting to secure the country. Around 1,600 French soldiers have been deployed across the CAR.

A FRANCE 24 team, embedded with French paratroopers, crisscrossed the boulevards of Bangui, where clashes between Christian and Muslim militias have recently ceased.

Since the March ouster of President François Bozizé by a rebel alliance known as Seleka, the country has slipped into chaos of a dangerously sectarian nature – an unprecedented development in this Christian majority country where Muslims constitute about 15% of the population.

The Seleka rebels are mostly Muslim and include fighters from neighbouring Chad and Sudan. While transitional president, Michel Djotodia, officially disbanded the Seleka alliance, in reality, the former rebel leader lost control of rebel fighters. Meanwhile, Christian self-defence groups known as “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) sprung up to defend communities before some of them moved to extract revenge.

Preventing sectarian clashes

The primary mission of the French troops in the CAR is to prevent sectarian clashes between the two communities.

On the streets of Bangui, the French military presence is now synonymous with safety. "We are very pleased that the French army is in the streets. Within three to four days, life will resume and we will be in peace,” said a resident of a Muslim-majority district.

Later, the French forces patrolled a primarily Christian neighbourhood. "This neighbourhood is where [ousted leader] Francois Bozizé comes from. People here support him. If exactions are to take place, it could well be in this area," explained Captain Barres.

Seeing the French military patrol, residents finally stepped out of their homes for the first time in three days. Relieved residents explained that they were being harassed day and night by ex-Seleka rebels.

As the patrol approached a cross street, armed men were located around a corner, but they slipped away in the network of backstreets. Minutes later, French troops were warned of another incident in the area. The tanks started up again and proceeded down the road to the loud cheers of local residents. Order may be slowly returning to parts of the Central African capital, but stability is yet to come to this corner of the continent.

Date created : 2013-12-08

  • FRANCE 24 EXCLUSIVE

    Hollande calls for swift elections in CAR

    Read more

  • AFRICA - SECURITY

    Can the dream of an African security force come true?

    Read more

  • CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

    France boosts troop levels to quell violence in CAR

    Read more

COMMENT(S)