French President François Hollande began a visit to the Central African Republic capital Bangui on Tuesday.
While there, he will meet with French troops and pay his respects to the two soldiers killed on Monday; the first French casualties since troops were deployed to the country in a UN-backed operation on Friday.
Hollande spoke of the risks involved in the mission, saying “danger is necessary if we are to avoid absolute carnage.”
Much of the fighting has been happening in Bangui, where inter-communal clashes have been taking place since March.
Violence between Christians and mainly Muslim Seleka rebels has reportedly claimed up to 465 lives since Thursday in Bangui alone.
Since Monday, French troops have worked in conjunction with multinational forces from Central African States (FOMAC), who are charged with protecting the people of the CAR.
We asked one FOMAC soldier if the troops were being fired on. He responded: “Yes, they’re firing on us. It’s not normal.”
When asked who has been shooting at them, he said: “We don’t know. Some civilians are firing at us.”
There has been chaos throughout the capital. Some people have been seen brandishing knives.
Mosques have been attacked, Muslim shops looted, and cars burnt during recent conflict.
Despite the apparent pandemonium, the army says it has established a level of stability in some areas of the capital.