Scores killed in Central African Republic violence

UN Security Council backs French-sponsored resolution aimed at restoring security

Fighting swept through the capital of Central African Republic today, leaving dozens of casualties and posing the biggest threat yet to the country’s new government.

The UN Security Council authorised an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims. Witnesses and aid workers said at least 98 people died in the capital, Bangui.

The deaths are a result of clashes between the Muslim armed fighters who rule the country and a Christian militia which opposes them. An Associated Press journalist counted 48 bodies at a mosque in a northern district late today.

Separately, Doctors Without Borders confirmed at least 50 people were dead at hospitals it is running. The armed Christian fighters attacked the capital before dawn, in the most serious violence to hit Bangui since a March coup brought the Seleka rebel coalition to power.


The former rebels are accused of committing scores of human rights abuses. The Christian militias, which support the deposed president, have been implicated in massacres on Muslim communities.

Underscoring the chaos, even the president's and prime minister's homes were looted today. The UN Security Council unanimously authorised increased military action by France and African troops aimed at restoring security and protecting civilians in the volatile former French colony.

Speaking from the Elysee Palace in Paris, French president Francois Hollande promised that the 600 troops in the country will be doubled “within a few days, even a few hours”.

He said the Central African Republic was “calling us for help” and he “decided to act immediately”.

In Bangui, people scurried indoors, including some who sought sanctuary inside a church. Inside a Bangui hospital, dozens of people with gunshot wounds lay on the floor or on wooden benches, waiting for hours to see a doctor.

Hours after fighting broke out, the Central African Republic's president, Michel Djotodia, who was installed earlier this year, said the clashes were over.

By afternoon, the streets were empty of all but military vehicles and the four-wheel-drive pick-up trucks favoured by Seleka rebels.

Prime minister Nicholas Tiangaye confirmed his house had been looted, describing the attackers as a group of Seleka rebels who arrived in three pick-up trucks. "It's true, my house was attacked and pillaged," he said, adding that his family was evacuated beforehand and were safe.

Babacar Gaye, the UN special representative for the Central African Republic, appealed for calm in a joint statement from the UN, European Union, African Union and France.

Seleka is an unlikely group of allies who united a year ago with the goal of forcing president Francois Bozize out after a decade in power. After thousands of rebels besieged Bangui in March, Mr Bozize fled and the insurgents installed their leader Mr Djotodia as president.