Militia attack Muslims in Central African Republic's capital

Militia attack Muslims in Central African Republic
# 20 December 2013 19:25 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Christian militia attacked Muslim neighborhoods in the capital of Central African Republic on Friday, as France appealed to European partners for assistance in quelling months of religious violence in its former colony, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Waves of looting, rapes and massacres since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March have displaced more than 700,000 people in the poor, landlocked country and revived memories of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

France has deployed 1,600 troops under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians and support an African Union peacekeeping mission, following an escalation of the violence in early December in which hundreds of people were killed in Bangui.

A semblance of calm had returned to the ramshackle riverside capital in recent days but fighting raged for several hours in the Muslim neighborhoods of PK 5 and Fatima early on Friday following attacks by Christian militias known as anti-balaka.

"They tried to attack other parts of the city and even made an attempt to reach the center of the town," Guy-Simplice Kodegue, a spokesman for the interim government, told Reuters.

At a summit in Brussels, France's President Francois Hollande appealed for help from European Union partners to restore order in the nation of 4.6 million people.

He said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton would propose options for a joint European mission, to be decided in late January. Poland had already sent 50 airmen to operate a C130 transport plane while Britain, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Holland were providing logistical support, he said.

"I am not asking that troops come to take part in military actions," Hollande said. "What we need is a presence for specific missions such as protecting the airport, helping security, medical and humanitarian assistance."

The United States has pledged up to $100 million to support the African Union peacekeeping mission with equipment, training, and logistical support.

President Barack Obama, however, has stopped short of offering to send U.S. troops or voicing strong public support for a possible U.N. peacekeeping mission.

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