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Africa's God Wars
Hundreds Flee Capital as Central African Republic Disintegrates

A limited force of French soldiers arrived in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, on Friday, just hours after clashes between Muslim and Christian militia groups left scores of people dead across the city. The AP reports:

With the capital of Bangui hovering at the edge of anarchy, French military reinforcements — including fighter jets, helicopters, parachutists and armored vehicles — rumbled their way into one of the world’s poorest countries.

Streets in the city were empty except for military vehicles and the trucks favored by rebel forces who now claim control of the government. Nine unclaimed bodies sprawled in front of the parliament building on Friday — local Red Cross workers didn’t dare retrieve them or other bodies left to decay outside. […]

There was no repeat of the clashes that left more than 100 people dead in Bangui on Thursday when Christian militias raided Muslim neighborhoods, but it remained an open question how France can achieve even its limited goals in the six months allotted to the mission.

Officials in Paris were quick to describe their reluctance for this mission:

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius repeated his government’s desire for a robust African force to intervene in what he called “a certain number of similar situations.”

“It’s not up to France to intervene each time,” he said.

All this started when a coalition of mostly Muslim rebel groups invaded the capital of CAR, one of the world’s most poor and disorganized countries, overthrew the president and then turned on civilians. Many of those living in the capital and surrounding towns began fighting back.

Despite the arrival of French troops, there appears to be no end in sight for the violence sweeping CAR or the underlying issues—poor governance, corruption, religious divides, a badly struggling economy—driving it. Africa is witnessing a number of “God Wars”: in Somalia, where Islamic militants continue to battle a feeble central government and international troops, in Nigeria, where a devastating attack signaled a resurgent Boko Haram this week, and in CAR.

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