Krista Larson and Lori Hinnant
Associated Press
December 7, 2013

The location of the Central African Republic in green.
The location of the Central African Republic in green.

Thousands of Christian civilians sought refuge at an airport [in the Central African Republic] guarded by French soldiers Friday, fleeing from the mostly Muslim ex-rebels with machetes and guns who rule the country a day after the worst violence to hit the chaotic capital in nine months.

When several French helicopters landed at the airport, people sang with joy as they banged on plastic buckets and waved rags into the air in celebration.

Outside the barbed wire fences of the airport, bodies lay decomposing along the roads in a capital too dangerous for many to collect the corpses. Thursday’s clashes left at least 280 dead, according to national radio, and have raised fears that waves of retaliatory attacks could soon follow.

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