Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-11 17:11:00
More than 20 people have died in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, since Monday following the launch of the operation to disarm armed groups and militias by the French army, according to ex-Seleka official Col. Michel Narkoyo.
The deaths include five ex-fighters of Seleka, a coalition which toppled the former regime in March, and civilians, Narkoyo told Xinhua on telephone on Tuesday in an interview, saying the French military intervention was a failure.
"It appears as though the French came to fight against Muslims and protect Christians," said the official, the ex-military spokesman and currently the head of Central African Republic's national gendarmerie.
Among the civilians, he said, there were Muslim businessmen who were lynched by the population after their premises had been looted.
"They included Central African Republic's nationals, Chadians, Sudanese as well as Nigerians," he added.
As many as 500 people have been killed in Central African Republic since last week, with Bangui submerged in bloodbath, where clashes between ex-Seleka fighters, mostly Muslims, and Christian supporters of former president Francois Bozize sparked a fear of genocide.
On Thursday, the UN Security Council authorized the French military intervention in Central African Republic in collaboration with an African-led mission to help restore security and preempt the worst since the takeover of power by Seleka leader Michel Djotodia on March 24.
Djotodia disbanded Seleka not long ago in a bid to form a national army, but has failed to stop violence since assuming office as interim president.
Paris had declared the deployment of 1,600 soldiers on a six- month mission alongside the 2,500-strong International Support Mission for Central African Republic (MISCA), which is under the African Union (AU) command.
MISCA charged with the duty of pacifying this poor country replaces the Central Africa Multinational Force (FOMAC), a weak force that failed to prevent deadly conflicts between the forces supporting Bozize and the ex-Seleka rebels in March.
"Before his departure, Bozize distributed weapons and machetes to the Bangui population, and its them who are causing violence in the town. We thought the French had come to disarm both sides: ex- Seleka rebels and the anti-Balakas (the self-defense militias fighting against the current regime in Bangui)," Narkoyo said.
"Since yesterday (Monday), the experience has shown that the French came to protect Christians and expose Muslims, because they are disarming Muslims and when the population attack and kill disarmed Muslims, they do not intervene to protect them. They have been moving in Bangui district with Christians who show them the houses of Seleka fighters," Narkoyo said.
On its part, the French army has insisted that it was only involved in a humanitarian intervention and has immediately helped to restore hope to a population traumatized by actions of ex- Seleka rebels and the anti-Balaka militias.
On Tuesday morning, Paris announced two paratroopers were killed in the operation following a shoot-out with armed men in Bangui.
Col. Narkoyo confirmed the incident occurred on Monday at around 11 p.m. local time, when the French soldiers went deep into the Bangui villages to track down an army lieutenant from Djotodia's ethnic group, Goula.
"The people who shot at them have not yet been identified," the national gendarmerie head said.
"I don't know whether they have come to exterminate us. At this moment when I am speaking to you, they are shooting towards PK5 zone. It's disgraceful. We do not have a problem with France, but this French mission in Central African Republic is a failure. There is a lot of hopelessness," Narkoyo said.
He expressed fears that the French army could have come to remove them from power, in reference to the comments made on Friday by French President Francois Hollande accusing Djotodia of not having done anything to prevent chaos in the country.
"I do not know how to respond, but we are watching how far they will go," Narkoyo told his interviewer.