U.N. Authorizes African, French Troops in Central African Republic

Security Council unanimously approved resolution

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William Daniels / Panos for TIME

Séléka fighters collected the body of a general who died during the battles launched on the early morning by the anti-balaka, in Bangui on Dec. 5.

A resolution for joint military action by African and French forces in the Central African Republic was unanimously approved by the U.N. Security Council, hours after Muslim-Christian violence intensified in the capital city.

At least 105 people were killed in Bangui on Thursday, Reuters reports. At a mosque, one correspondent had counted 53 bodies, most of which appeared to have been hacked or clubbed to death.

The new authorization, which gives troops the power to use force in order to protect civilians, also imposed an arms embargo on the country and asked the U.N. to prepare for a potential peacekeeping mission. Britain’s military also said Thursday that it’s discussing the possibility of providing France with “limited logistical support,” AFP reports.

Last month, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius claimed the country was “on the verge of genocide” and announced France was adding hundreds of troops to its force protecting its interests, nationals and the airport.

(PHOTOS: The Crisis in the Central African Republic, by William Daniels)

The Central African Republic, a largely Christian nation of some 4.6 million people, has been riddled by five coups since it gained independence from France in 1960.

For most of the year, it’s been embroiled in steady clashes between Séléka, the coalition of Muslim rebels who overran Bangui in March and forced out President François Bozizé, and the armed vigilantes referred to as “anti-balaka” that have sprung up to defend themselves. Michel Djotodia, the Séléka leader who installed himself as the country’s president after Bozizé fled, officially disbanded the rebels in September, but the chaos has escalated since then.