France said Monday that it will begin disarming fighters in the Central African Republic, by force if necessary.
The tough talk came as relative quiet prevailed after several days of intense fighting claimed almost 400 lives, Reuters reports. A 1,600-strong French force is seeking to quell violence in the land-locked country. The French troops were sent into the CAR after the United Nations Security Council agreed last week on a resolution “to help civilians, stabilize the country and restore State authority over the territory.”
That followed several days of fighting in the capital of Bangui. Christian self-defense militia groups have been responding to attacks from the mainly Muslim rebel group, Seleka, which helped the current interim President Michel Djotodia seize power in March. Djotodia blames the recent attacks on gunmen loyal the ousted former President, Francois Bozize, reports Reuters.
French troops have been patrolling the capital, Bangui, but reports indicate that several former Seleka militiamen are in control of parts of the city, according to BBC. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defense minister, told French media on Sunday that “everybody will lay down their arms. First we’ll ask gently and if they don’t react, we’ll do it by force.”