UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution allowing European troops to use force in Central African Republic and threatening sanctions against those blamed for the country's strife.
The European Union is to send up to 600 troops to help African and French forces already in the country trying to end clashes between rival Christian and Muslim militias.
The resolution allows the reinforcements to use "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in the country which has been in near anarchy since its president was overthrown by rebels 10 months ago.
It allows for sanctions against the ringleaders of groups blamed for massacres and human rights abuses, but did not name initial targets for measures.
The resolution also calls on Central African Republic's interim government to speed up moves toward new elections.
A transitional accord between rival groups set a deadline of February next year for elections. The council said polls should be held in the second half of 2014 if possible.
France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud said the resolution was "a new stage" in efforts to help Central African Republic out of the strife in which thousands are feared killed and more than 900,000 people have fled their homes.
"There is an incredible amount of resentment and hatred between the two communities," he said of the clashes between Muslim and Christian groups but added that there are signs of improvement.