Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy
. Africa News .

Bangui residents guide French troops in weapons hunt
by Staff Writers
Bangui, Central African Republic (AFP) Dec 09, 2013

US military to fly AU troops to C. Africa: officials
Washington (AFP) Dec 09, 2013 - The US military will help fly African Union peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic as part of a French-led effort to restore security there, US officials said Monday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was in Qatar on a tour of the region, has ordered American forces "to begin transporting forces from Burundi to the Central African Republic, in coordination with France," his spokesman said in a statement.

The Pentagon will make two C-17 transport planes available to transport roughly 850 Burundian soldiers, a US defense official said on condition of anonymity, noting: "We hope to start tomorrow."

The mission to ferry the troops and their equipment should be completed in a matter of days, the official said.

Hagel took the decision after conferring by phone on Sunday with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who requested "limited" US military assistance to support the international effort, spokesman Carl Woog said.

"In the near term, France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic," he said.

"The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region."

The United States would look to possibly provide "additional resources" if needed, the statement said, without offering details.

More than a year ago, the United States deployed about 100 special forces to the region to help Ugandan forces track warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters.

The US troops are based in Uganda, but their search involves a stretch of jungle in the eastern corner of the Central African Republic.

The announcement from the Pentagon came as French troops on Monday started disarming fighters in the country after a spike in sectarian violence that claimed hundreds of lives.

In addition to the French contingent on the ground, the African Union plans to bolster a regional force to 6,000 troops from an initially planned 3,600.

The Pentagon offered similar assistance during the French intervention in Mali, providing cargo aircraft and sharing intelligence with their allies.

A swarm of Bangui residents trailed French troops as they began combing the streets for rogue rebels Monday, egging them on with a deluge of tips and tip-offs.

Almost every confiscated gun is met by cheers as units from France's 1,600-strong "Operation Sangaris" go door-to-door to find weapons.

"We're going from A to B, checking all vehicles and some homes, collecting intel," said one officer who goes by the name of Ludo.

"We seize all weapons. The machetes too are considered weapons, so we confiscate them," he said, a helicopter circling above his armoured convoy.

Sectarian killings left hundreds dead in recent days, many of them hacked to death, and residents of the Central African Republic's capital had shuttered themselves up waiting for the French army to move in.

French troops faced no resistance in claiming control of Bangui but on Monday they turned to the thornier task of disarming militiamen from the mainly Muslim Seleka group.

Near the airport, an exulting crowd looked on as gunmen lay face down on the ground as French soldiers lined up a booty of rocket-launchers and assault rifles.

The French mission is confined to disarming however and the suspects were soon released, to the dismay of a group anxious to see their tormentors bite the dust.

As the search party moved down Boganda, one of Bangui's main avenues, a crowd of residents formed in front of a soap factory they claimed was a Seleka hideout.

"There were a lot of Seleka here. Yesterday, they were shooting at four in the morning," said Bienvenue Goh, an office employee who lives nearby.

"They set out after dark and murder young men. They have treated us like cockroaches for months. The site needs to be searched and their weapons seized," she said.

"There are weapons in there," the excited crowd shouted as the soldiers entered the compound, their French-built Famas assault rifles strapped over their shoulders.

A watchman hailing from neighbouring Chad, which some among the CAR's majority Christians accuse of being behind Seleka, insisted he did not have the key to the main building.

"Tell him to open the door or we'll smash it down," a French lieutenant named Frederic ordered one of his men.

Another guard protested: "We are Muslims, that's why people accuse us."

The impoverished former French colony has been sliding into chaos since a March coup brought Seleka leader Michel Djotodia to power, making him the country's first Muslim president.

While some Seleka fighters remained loyal to him, others went rogue and committed atrocities that have inflamed religious tensions and sparked international concern.

Frustrated residents

The French soldiers eventually forced their way into the soap factory's main warehouse and uncovered a meagre three Kalashnikov bullets and a few military cots.

Bienvenue Goh was frustrated: "What good is it for us to point out these places if they don't do anything?"

"The Seleka will come back tonight and kill us in revenge," she said, explaining that she feared Seleka informants had spied on the scene.

The French officer tried to reassure the crowd.

"We are disarming. Before, the Seleka had weapons but now they are no longer allowed. If we see them, we'll arrest them.

"It's going to change. They can no longer do what they did before, and they know it."

A few streets further down, traders and shoppers were cautiously returning to the Lakouanga market but fear of a now invisible enemy was all minds.

"We hadn't been out in days. We're taking a risk here but we're hungry and with the French soldiers we are a little bit more confident, but I'm not able to get what I need," said Elise Nzale, standing before a few tomatoes, some rotten.

Another buyer, Arlette Papaye, argued that France's search units would have to probe deeper into Bangui's dark alleys if they want to flush out the Seleka.

"The French have to venture off the main thoroughfares and move deeper inside the neighbourhoods. If they don't, there's no point."


Related Links
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

1,600 French troops in CAR, no fresh clashes: army
Paris (AFP) Dec 08, 2013
About 1,600 French troops have deployed as planned in the Central African Republic, the army confirmed on Sunday, adding that no fresh clashes had occurred since Thursday. General staff spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron said the troops were on the ground, with most in the capital Bangui and a few units deployed elsewhere. He said French troops had boosted patrols in Bangui and there was som ... read more

Saudi, China scientists decode date-palm tree DNA

Qantas steward with Parkinson's to sue over pesticide link

IPM for Billbugs in Orchardgrass

Unlikely collaboration leads to discovery of 'gender-bending' plant

Israel, Jordan, Palestinians to ink water-sharing deal

Better water purification with seeds from Moringa trees

Precipitation declines in Pacific Northwest mountains

Environmentalists hail China's banquet ban on shark fin

Geoengineering approaches to reduce climate change unlikely to succeed

Earth's crust beneath oceans could store centuries' output of CO2

Continuing with pledge pathways to 2030 could push climate goals out of reach

EASAC report warns Europe on extreme weather event increase

Who Is Keeping the Lights on in California?

The heat is on...or off

French Alstom sues Chinese firm in Bulgaria over patent

India needs $2.1 trillion investment for energy: IEA

Team reports on US trials of bioenergy grasses

Ground broken on $6 million Hungarian farm biogas plant

Companies could make the switch to wood power

Turning waste into power with bacteria and loofahs

Kerry to tour typhoon-hit Philippines, Vietnam

Philippines typhoon survivors determined to hope

Philippines to seek more aid from Japan at summit

One month after super typhoon, Philippines faces huge challenges

Air pollution in Europe kills even at guideline levels

Chinese newspaper blasts state TV for tribute to smog

Hong Kong announces new air pollution index

UCSB researcher shows microplastic transfers chemicals, impacting health

China exports grow strongly on demand from US, Europe

Chinese investors look to mine Bitcoin volatility

Beijing second costliest Asian city for expats: survey

Chinese tycoon unveils $10bn Ukrainian port project: report

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement