More than 400,000 people have been displaced in CAR since Seleka rebels - many who are Muslims from neighboring countries Chad and Sudan - seized political power in March 2013, ousting then-president Francois Bozize. Shortly after the transition, the majority Christian population was subject to increasing incidents of rapes, murders and looting. Michel Djotodia, rebel leader turned interim president, has largely lost control of his gunmen. Christians fled reprisals following a failed offensive on Bangui the first week of December. A French initiative to disarm all fighters on both sides has weakened Seleka’s influence in the capital, leading to counter-attacks by Christian militias.
President Francois Hollande visited CAR on his return trip to France from the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Monday after two French soldiers were killed in fighting and shortly after France sent a 1,600-strong force into its former colony to neutralize the chaos and end the deadly fighting.
In the Fouh neighborhood on Tuesday, a Reuters correspondent saw civilians armed with wooden clubs and machetes attack a mosque and houses, and at least six people were lynched overnight mainly during violence targeting Muslims, according to residents. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the current French troop levels were sufficient to stabilize the country. CAR is roughly the size of France. The U.S. said it will fly African forces into the country: two U.S. military C-17 aircraft will fly 850 troops from Burundi, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, said. It was unclear what U.S. support might follow, but Firman said consultations were ongoing. The forces will help bolster the contingent from the African Union, due to be increased to 6,000 from about 3,500.
UN Refugee Agency reported that by Monday night, an estimated 108,000 people in Bangui have left their homes and staying in 30 locations across the capital, mainly in churches, mosques, public buildings and the airport. In addition, an unknown number of people have also moved to Kilometre 5, a mostly Muslim neighborhood in the northwest of Bangui, to stay with relatives or friends. In the capital Bangui, religious leaders met to distribute food to the more than 10,000 displaced people huddled at a gathering at a community center for protection. They urged an end to the violence.
David Rhode, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Reuters columnist writes: Wealthy nations are funding a poorly-equipped regional peacekeeping force instead of authorizing more costly United Nations troops, and it is unclear whether the approach will work.
Top Photo: A Christian youth inside a burned-out car in Bangui on December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun
Live coverage: Janet Yellen sits before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Thursday as it vets her nomination to take the helm at the Federal Reserve System, a position for which — if confirmed — would make her one of the most powerful women in the financial world.
Reuters live blog: http://reut.rs/1icQ3Zc
But what does Janet Yellen think of the U.S. economy? Watch her speak live and read analysis and commentary from Reuters staff on what her plans are for boosting economic growth.
Photos: Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. Federal Reserve. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A privately owned prototype space plane aces its debut test flight in California but runs into landing problems on the runway.
New York’s Staten Island was one of Hurricane Sandy’s hardest hit areas, and the process of rebuilding has been a slow one.
New Yorkers are unlikely to ever forget the wrath of Hurricane Sandy and the damage it left behind.
Spain summoned the U.S. ambassador to discuss alleged spying on Spanish citizens on Monday: Spanish newspaper El Mundo said the National Security Agency (NSA) tracked over 60 million calls in Spain, citing a document obtained from Edward Snowden. http://reut.rs/18tDWPc
Photo: U.S. ambassador in Spain, James Costos leaves the foreign ministry in Madrid on October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Medina
President Barack Obama and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had an interesting phone call today.
The German government obtained information that the United States may have monitored the mobile phone of Chancellor Merkel, so she called President Obama on Wednesday to demand an immediate clarification, a German government spokesman said.
"We swiftly sent a request to our American partners asking for an immediate and comprehensive clarification," the spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. He added that Merkel had made clear to Obama that if the information proved trued it would be "completely unacceptable" and represent a "grave breach of trust".
Obama sought to assure Merkel that “the United States is not monitoring the communications of the chancellor.”
Photos by REUTERS/Yves Herman (Merkel, taken in 2011) and Pete Souza/White House (Obama, taken in 2013).
President Barack Obama declared himself frustrated with the malfunctioning website central to the new healthcare law on Monday and said he is confident problems will be fixed. http://reut.rs/1fQuBto
Tell us: If you are an American citizen, have you tried to access healthcare.gov? What has your experience been?
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said that “no one is madder than me” that the healthcare.gov site is not working as it should, “which means it’s going to get fixed.”
Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Congress approved a deal to end a partial government shutdown and pull the world’s biggest economy back from the brink of a historic default that threatened financial calamity. http://reut.rs/1fDXYz2
Obama vowed to sign the bill and begin reopening the government “immediately.” The deal, however, offers only a temporary fix and does not resolve the fundamental issues of spending and deficits that divide Republicans and Democrats. It funds the government until January 15 and raises the debt ceiling until February 7, so Americans face the possibility of another government shutdown early next year.
Photo: U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Barack Obama. Taken on October 16, 2013. Photos by Kevin Lamarque and Yuri Gripas.
U.S. Senator Harry Reid says a bipartisan compromise has been reached in the Senate to raise debt limit and reopen the federal government. Senator Ted Cruz, champion of Tea Party conservatives, says he does not intend to delay passage of the deal, saying that the timing of the Senate vote will not make a difference in the outcome “so I do not intend to delay the vote.”
A deal to turn the lights back on for the U.S. federal government seems nearer. As the Senate reconvenes, lawmakers announce a deal to end the shutdown.
Watch live: http://reut.rs/PoliticsLIVE
Photo: Statue of Grief and History stands in front of the Capitol Dome in Washington, DC. REUTERS/Joshua Robert