World

French military operations launch overnight in Central African Republic

  • Prime Minister of the Central African Republic Nicolas Tiangaye speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.  French President Francois Hollande announced he would double the number of troops in the former French colony, possibly within hours. The U.N. Security Council authorized an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims, as fighting swept through the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, leaving nearly one hundred people dead and posing the biggest threat yet to the country's new government. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Prime Minister of the Central African Republic Nicolas Tiangaye speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. French President Francois Hollande announced he would double the number of troops in the former French colony, possibly within hours. The U.N. Security Council authorized an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims, as fighting swept through the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, leaving nearly one hundred people dead and posing the biggest threat yet to the country's new government. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Prime Minister of the Central African Republic Nicolas Tiangaye watches French President Francois Hollande on TV, as he announces he would double the number of troops in the former French colony, possibly within hours, in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. In his first reaction to the French move, Tiangaye told The Associated Press that he sees it "very positively" and that he had wanted a "firm reaction from France."  The U.N. Security Council authorized an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims, as fighting swept through the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, leaving nearly one hundred people dead and posing the biggest threat yet to the country's new government.  (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Prime Minister of the Central African Republic Nicolas Tiangaye watches French President Francois Hollande on TV, as he announces he would double the number of troops in the former French colony, possibly within hours, in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. In his first reaction to the French move, Tiangaye told The Associated Press that he sees it "very positively" and that he had wanted a "firm reaction from France." The U.N. Security Council authorized an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims, as fighting swept through the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, leaving nearly one hundred people dead and posing the biggest threat yet to the country's new government. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by the United Nations, Charles-Armel Doubane, the Permanent Representative of the Central African Republic to the UN, left, listens to proceedings in the Security Council chamber at during discussions on the situation in the Central African Republic, at United Nations Headquarters, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. Responding to reports of increased sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, the U.N. Security Council authorized increased military action by France and African troops for a year with a mandate to use "appropriate measures" to protect civilians and restore security. The man at right is unidentified. (AP Photo/The United Nations, Amanda Voisard)

    In this photo provided by the United Nations, Charles-Armel Doubane, the Permanent Representative of the Central African Republic to the UN, left, listens to proceedings in the Security Council chamber at during discussions on the situation in the Central African Republic, at United Nations Headquarters, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. Responding to reports of increased sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, the U.N. Security Council authorized increased military action by France and African troops for a year with a mandate to use "appropriate measures" to protect civilians and restore security. The man at right is unidentified. (AP Photo/The United Nations, Amanda Voisard)  (The Associated Press)

France's defense chief says military operations began overnight in Central African Republic, with patrols and a helicopter detachment arriving to quell violence in the streets of the capital.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Radio France Internationale that the streets of Bangui were calm on Friday, after a spasm of bloodshed that began before dawn Thursday and left nearly 100 people dead.

The ambush of armed Christian fighters on Muslim neighborhoods of Bangui, the capital, came hours before the United Nations voted to send French troops to stabilize Central African Republic.

Le Drian said the immediate goal is to keep the streets safe.

"You have to ensure that the vandals, the bandits and the militias know they can't use the streets of Bangui for their battles," he said.