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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More