More French troops are being deployed to the conflict-riddled Central African Republic in response to a rising sectarian clash, according to French President Francois Hollande.
Hollande plans to send up to 6,000 French troops to the country’s former colony — a jump from the 1,600 he earlier announced would arrive Saturday– and would remain as long as it takes to help the country regain stability, the Associated Press reports. The increase follows days of conflict between the Muslim ex-rebels-turned-government and Christian militia, who attacked the nation’s capital Bangui Thursday, leaving at least 280 dead, according to national radio citing Red Cross figures.
An estimated 2,000 Christian civilians fearing retaliation from Muslims poured into a French-operated airport Friday, as French troops landed.
Michel Djotodia, a former rebel leader and now president, urged for peace in a speech broadcast Thursday. He decreed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, aiming to tame the intensifying violence against Christians from Muslims following the attack.
Djotodia, a Muslim rebel leader of the group known as Seleka, rose to power after ousting the former president in March. The Central African Republic’s Muslim population has felt disenfranchised from the government for many years.