French troops moved into the Central African Republic on Friday, hours after a Thursday vote by the U.N. authorized forces to try to stabilize the country.
The French forces will look to stem violence in the capital of Bangui. The Red Cross said Friday it had already collected 281 bodies from the clashes between Christians and Muslims, Reuters reports, well above the initial estimate around 100. The latest violence promoted the U.N. vote allowing for the assistance of foreign forces.
French officials insist that their mission is limited to quelling the violence in the capital and supporting an African force.
“You have to secure, you have to disarm,” French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Radio France Internationale. “You have to ensure that the vandals, the bandits, the militias know they can’t use the streets of Bangui for their battles.”
The U.K. military was also flying equipment to the country to aid French troops on Friday, the Associated Press reports.
Bangui’s streets were mostly deserted on Friday, the AP reports, and there was no repeat of the previous day’s bloodshed. The U.N. Security Council also voted to impose an arms embargo on the country.