World News

France's Hollande Visits CAR after 2 French Soldiers Killed




French President Francois Hollande arrived in the Central African Republic Tuesday, just hours after two French soldiers were killed in overnight fighting.

The deaths were France's first casualties since it sent more troops to help end months of instability in the African country.

President Hollande flew to the capital, Bangui, from South Africa, where he attended a memorial service Tuesday for former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

The French news agency reports Mr. Hollande took a few moments to bow before the coffins of the two soldiers, shortly after arriving in Bangui.

French defense officials say gunmen fatally shot the two soldiers, who were taking part in an operation to disarm militants near the airport in Bangui.

Some 1,600 French troops are working with African forces as part of a United Nations-mandated effort to restore security and protect civilians in the CAR.

France's ambassador to the U.N., Gerard Araud, told reporters Tuesday the mission "will be difficult," but France is not giving up.



"We have always been aware that it will be a difficult mission, especially because we want, of course, to disarm all the armed groups. That's the first part. So it's a very bloody incident, and of course we are moved by what happened to our soldiers. But we are determined to move forward."





Tension between the country's Muslims and Christians appears to have escalated in recent days.

In a VOA interview, Amnesty International's Joanne Mariner said an angry mob in Bangui torched a mosque on Tuesday.



"They burned part of it, including burning down the home of the imam, and they were really dismantling it stone-by-stone. They were also yelling anti-Muslim slogans, making the sign of cutting somebody's throat and calling for the president to step down."



U.S. President Barack Obama issued a recorded message to the people of the CAR, urging them to remain calm in the midst of the rising sectarian violence, which has caused hundreds of deaths in the past week.

He called on them to "choose a different path."



"Respected leaders in your communities, Muslim and Christian, are calling for calm and peace. I call on the transitional government to join these voices and to arrest those who are committing crimes. Individuals who are engaging in violence must be held accountable in accordance with the law."



The Associated Press news agency quotes aid officials as saying the death toll in the CAR has reached more than 500.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday the United States would transport African Union peacekeeping troops to the country from neighboring Burundi.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to the move after the French defense minister asked for the airlift assistance.

The instability in the impoverished country began in March, when the rebel Seleka movement ousted President Francois Bozize but then disintegrated.

Witnesses have reported widespread looting and lawlessness, with the interim government unable to restore order.

Recent weeks have seen rising clashes between the mostly Muslim ex-rebels and mostly Christian armed groups known as anti-balaka.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs