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Hospital attacked in Central African Republic

France increases troop presence to 1,600 after almost 400 people are killed in three days of violence.

Last updated: 08 Dec 2013 10:04
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A hospital in the capital of the Central African Republic has been attacked by armed gunmen, according to Al Jazeera sources.

At least ten people were killed when Seleka rebels arrived late on Friday night at Bangui's Amitie hospital, where many of those wounded from days of violence were being treated.

The gunmen reportedly pulled injured victims from the hospital, and shot them dead. The hospital has since been abandoned, Al Jazeera has been told.

African peacekeepers have confiscated machetes from
those who have sought sanctuary inside their compound
in Bossangoa [Marcus Bleasdale/HRW]

On Saturday, the country's interim authorities ordered all forces except foreign peacekeepers and the presidential guard off the streets of Bangui.

The order for gunmen to return to barracks in Bangui came as France dispatched troops to the country, where almost 400 people have died in three days of violence. On Saturday, France announced it was increasing the number of French troops from 1,200 to 1,600.

French President Francois Hollande also said on Saturday it would be difficult for the current head of Central African Republic to stay in place because he let the crisis there unfold.

"I don't want to point fingers but we cannot keep in place a president who was not able to do anything, or even worse, who let things happen," Hollande said in an interview broadcast on the France 24 TV channel.

He said elections should be held before 2015 when the mandate of the interim president, Michel Djotodia, ends.

"The idea is to head as fast as possible towards elections," he said.

Patrolling main roads 

French forces started deploying to the north and west of the country to secure main roads and towns outside the capital, French army spokesman Gilles Jarron said on Saturday.

"Peacekeepers are patrolling the main roads. This is helping keep the looting down. But the atrocities are inside the neighbourhoods," said Amy Martin, head of the UN officer for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA).

Nazanine Moshiri blogs from CAR

Bangui: Waiting for the next big battle
Inside Bangui, a deserted city
Hyped-up contact group meeting on CAR
Uncovering a massacre in CAR

Follow Nazanine on Twitter:
@NazanineMoshiri

"If they can get into the neighbourhoods, we might start seeing a reduction in these crimes. The level of atrocities and the lack of humanity, the senseless killing defies imagination," Martin said.

The bloodshed started on Thursday as armed Christians from Anti-Balaka group raided Muslim neignbourhoods in a country that has been seeing tit-for-tat violence since mainly Muslim rebels, called Seleka, seized power in March and toppled President Francois Bozize.

Michel Djotodia, leader of the Seleka ex-rebel alliance, is CAR's interim president, but he has struggled to control his loose band of fighters, many from neighbouring Chad and Sudan.

French troops rumbled into their former colony on Friday, trying to stop violence in the capital and to stabilise the country after the UN Security Council authorised Paris to use force to help African peacekeepers.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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