World News

Dozens Killed in Fighting in CAR Capital

Deadly fighting wracked the capital of the Central African Republic Thursday, as the United Nations approved deployment of more foreign troops to stabilize the country.

Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders reports that clashes in Bangui have left at least 50 people dead and 90 others wounded, mostly from gun, machete or knife attacks.

A movement allied to former CAR president Francois Bozize has claimed responsibility for attacks around the capital.

Lin Banoukepa, who heads a pro-Bozize movement known as FROCCA, tells VOA that fighters are attempting to oust the rebels who toppled Bozize back in March.

Speaking by telephone from Paris, he said the fighters are striving to "restore the constitutional order, the constitution and elected officials in their duties." He says Francois Bozize is the president and not a rebel leader. He goes on to say when the Seleka rebels are out, FROCCA will restore the rule of law and restore Francois Bozize.

Spokesman for CAR interim President Michel Djotodia had blamed Bozize supporters for the violence in Bangui.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council authorized France and the African Union to strengthen their forces in the CAR, in hopes of restoring calm.

An AU stabilization force, known as MISCA, will consist of about 3,600 troops. They will be supported by the French force, numbering about 1,200.

The resolution passed Thursday also imposes a one-year arms embargo on the CAR, although supplies intended for African and French forces are excepted from the ban.

In an interview with VOA , deputy AU chairman Erastus Mwencha said his hope is that CAR's unrest can be contained as much as possible until the African forces arrive.

"It is very clear that the country is on the precipice of a major crisis. Many communities are fighting each other and it is extremely worrisome. And, the sooner that we can bring in a stabilization force so that Central Africa (Republic) can go back and have elections and bring in a government that help the country maintain law and order, the better."

The United Nations measure also calls for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to recommend within three months whether to form a U.N. peacekeeping force, which he has said could involve up to 9,000 troops.

The CAR spiraled downward after the rebel movement Seleka took power eight months ago. The weak interim government was unable to exert control over the rebel fighters, who were blamed for a surge in murder, rape, robbery and auto theft.

U.N. officials have warned the violence has taken on a sectarian tone, with the mostly Muslim Seleka fighters battling mostly Christian defense groups known as "anti-balaka."

In his interview with VOA, Banoukepa said the anti-balaka are Central Africans who want to free the country from "jihadists" who he said came from Sudan and Chad.

The CAR has endured decades of instability since winning independence from France in 1960.

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