A French soldier of the Sangaris force (L) stands guard on July 8, 2014 at the entrance of the PK5 muslim area of Bangui. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
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The bloodshed in the Central African Republic is often presented as pitting Muslims against Christians – an echo of other religious conflicts raging across the continent.French peacekeeping troops intervened in the former colony in December last year, along with a multinational force raised by the African Union, amid fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.They helped force the mainly Muslim Seleka militias, who had ousted former President Francois Bozize 10 months before, out of the capital Bangui in January. Another longtime thorn in the country's side seen as contributing to tensions is what analysts condemn as meddling by regional power Chad, where about half the population is Muslim.Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno supported the coup that brought Bozize to power in 2003, with backing from Paris and regional leaders who wanted to get rid of the troublesome former leader Ange-Felix Patasse. Ten years later, Chad was widely accused of backing the Seleka to oust Bozize.
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