* U.N. aid flown in after complaints of slow response
* French minister visits amid clashes in Bangui
* PM confirms he will not stand at next elections
(Recasts with U.N. warning, adds French minister, AU troops, UN
By Emmanuel Braun
BANGUI, Dec 13 The United Nations on Friday
warned groups carrying out atrocities in the Central African
Republic the world was watching and would hold them to account,
after the killings of hundreds of people, mainly civilians.
The warning from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon came a
day after a militia killed 27 Muslims in a village outside the
capital, Bangui, underscoring the challenge international troops
face stabilising the country.
Confronted with a deepening humanitarian crisis and
criticism from some aid workers that it was reacting too slowly,
the United Nations flew in 77 tonnes of relief supplies, the
largest airlift since fighting last week.
Central African Republic has been paralysed by cycles of
violence since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President
Francois Bozize in March. Their months in power have been marked
by killings, looting and other abuses, leading to the emergence
of Christian militia opposed to them.
These militia and gunmen loyal to Bozize attacked the
capital last week, triggering fresh killings and reprisals that
have deepened inter-religious conflict. More than 500 people
died and 100,000 were displaced in the capital alone.
"Too many people are scared and the country is on the brink
of ruin ... The bloodshed must stop," Ban said in a radio
address to the nation.
"I have a clear message to all who would commit atrocities
and crimes against humanity. The world is watching. You will be
held to account," he added. The International Criminal Court has
said all parties could be investigated.
A U.N.-authorised French peacekeeping mission has restored a
degree of calm to the capital but conflict has spread and the
U.N. Human Rights office said the Christian militia, known as
anti-balaka, killed 27 Muslims on Thursday in Bohong, a village
about 75 km (45 miles) from the western town of Bouar.
"The situation is also tense in several towns, including
Bouca, Bossangoa and Bozoum, where a vicious cycle of attacks
and reprisals continues," it said in an email.
French troops, who number 1,600 in the country, say
disarmament in the capital is drawing to an end and troops have
begun disarming gunmen in other towns. But the Bohong killings
point to the scale of the task in a country the size of France.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris had
been surprised by the scale of the violence in the capital.
"We thought the risk would have been bigger up country than
in Bangui but in fact it was the other way round," he said
during a visit on Friday, adding that deployments outside Bangui
would gradually pick up once the capital was secured.
As international efforts to tackle the crisis accelerate,
the African Union has authorised increasing its force in the
country to 6,000 troops from 2,500.
The country is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium but has
seen little stability and France has intervened there more since
independence in 1960 than in any other former colonies.
Several people died in clashes in the Miskine neighbourhood
of northwest Bangui overnight and Friday morning, according to
witnesses, a sign the capital itself remains unstable.
The fighting started when Christians on Thursday looted the
motorbike shop of a man linked to the Seleka, and escalated into
reprisal killings. French troops, backed by a helicopter,
restored calm on Friday, they said.
"The tension is still high in the neighbourhood despite the
presence of the French," said Chancella Cazalima, a student.
Residents in Miskine said it was a Seleka stronghold and
urged the French army and African peacekeepers to step up their
intelligence operations in a bid to bring calm.
There was no immediate comment from the French army.
UNICEF said on Friday it had flown in tonnes of supplies,
including blankets, soap, jerry cans and medicines. "This new
arrival of emergency supplies is critical to prevent diseases,
especially among the most vulnerable children and women."
French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres had on
Thursday accused U.N. agencies of failing to mobilise resources
quickly enough to the crisis, which has forced 500,000 people
from their homes over the last year.
Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye confirmed he would not stand
at the next elections in accordance with a political accord
signed in January. An independent body to prepare elections
would be set up in days, he added.
France wants elections brought forward to next year, putting
an end to the interim period originally scheduled to run into
(Additional reporting by Nicholas Vincour in Paris and
Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by David Lewis and Matthew
Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Andrew Roche)