The white helmeted faces of French soldiers peering from military gun trucks cruising embattled villages in Central African Republic are becoming more commonplace each day in the country marred by fighting between Muslim and Christian factions.
According to French President Francois Hollande, 1,600 French troops, about 400 more than originally announced, will pour into the former French colony on Saturday in an effort to protect CAR Muslims and Christians from each other.
Muslims who were once considered “rebels” but now have a hold on government were attacked by Christian Militia in the capital city of Banqui Thursday leaving about 280 dead, according to Red Cross figures broadcast by radio.
Meanwhile an estimated 2,000 Christian civilians fearing retaliation from Muslims took refuge at a French-operated airport Friday as French troops landed.
Michel Djotodia, a former rebel Muslim leader turned president, urged for peace in a speech broadcast Thursday by radio. He decreed a dusk-to-dawn curfew aimed at taming violence against Christian civilians from avenging Muslims following the attack.
Violence and Mayhem have been the norm since Djotodia took power in that country. Djotodia was a Muslim rebel leader of the group known as Seleka, before rising to power after ousting the former president in March.
The Muslim rebels known as Seleka ran amok in Central African Republic after toppling the president in March, killing Christian militias and anyone who backed the ousted leader, Francois Bozize. Weapons of war are abundant in the impoverished capital and recent attempts at disarmament have yielded little success.
"We estimate at least at 400 to 500 people have been killed so far in Bangui and the killings continue," Peter N. Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, told CNN Saturday.