News / Africa

France's Hollande Visits CAR After 2 French Soldiers Killed

French President Francois Hollande, left, addresses the troops during a stopover from South Africa in Bangui, CAR, Dec. 10, 2013.
French President Francois Hollande, left, addresses the troops during a stopover from South Africa in Bangui, CAR, Dec. 10, 2013.
VOA News
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.

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 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," said Araud.

  • A man takes part in looting a mosque in Fouh district in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Christians loot a mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • A Christian mob attacks a mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Chadian troops with FOMAC reload their weapons as they leave the area next to the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • French troops detain a suspected Seleka officer, preventing Christian mobs from lynching him near the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 9, 2013.
  • A suspected member of a Christian militia lays wounded by machete blows in the Kokoro neighborhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 9, 2013.

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," she said. "They were also yelling anti-Muslim slogans, making the sign of cutting somebody's throat and calling for the president to step down."

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," he said. "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.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs