French president arrives in Central African Republic

10th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

French President Francois Hollande arrived late Tuesday in curfew-bound Bangui where two French soldiers were killed hours earlier during an operation to disarm rogue rebels.

Accompanied by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Hollande flew to the Central African Repubic capital from Johannesburg where he had attended a memorial service for anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

The French leader took a moment to bow before the coffins of the two fallen soldiers.

The first losses of the French campaign to pacify its former colony underlined the risks involved in a complex mission to disarm fighters who have plunged the impoverished country into chaos.

Antoine Le Quinio, 22, and Nicolas Vokaer, 23, both members of the crack Eighth Parachute regiment based at Castres in southwestern France, died after a fierce firefight during a night patrol in Bangui, where bloody sectarian clashes left hundreds dead last week.

Hollande was expected to stress that the soldiers' deaths would have no impact on the tactics or the size of the 1,600-strong French force.


© 2013 AFP

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