French troops have traded fire with rebels in the Central African Republic who have refused to lay down their weapons.
It is reported many fled after the firefight. The 1,600 strong French force was sent to CAR after days of heavy fighting between Christians and Muslims left almost 400 dead in the capital.
Seleka rebels many from neighbouring Chad and Sudan had seized power in March. Disarming the former fighters has not been easy.
“The difficult thing is that with some of these militias which we call the former Seleka, I was told many of them have taken off their uniforms and are now dressed as civilians so we need to ask for the weapons but it is difficult to recognise these individuals,” explained French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius
That is just one problem for the French. The Central African Republic’s bush and forest terrain also makes it difficult to flush out the dissident fighters.
France’s Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian said fighters loyal to interim President Djotodia must return to barracks and the rest surrender their weapons. The minister said his troops would use force if necessary.
The French were sent to the CAR on Friday after the UN Security Council backed a mandate to restore order.