BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo: After airlifting about 100 foreign residents over the weekend to nearby Kinshasa, Congo, the U.S. Embassy is desperately trying to negotiate a cease-fire so that some two dozen American citizens holed up in the embassy compound can reach the airport and flights out. The evacuation efforts are taking place amid continued intensive fighting between militiamen loyal to deposed military leader Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso and beleagured troops loyal to President Pascal Lissouba who are struggling for control of Brazzaville. Bracing itself for the worst, France, which has already lost one soldier in the clash, today deployed roughly 500 soldiers, equipped with armed vehicles, to Brazzaville in an effort to defend stranded French civilians and about 550 foreign residents who have taken refuge in the French embassy. While Lissouba’s troops defended their positions south of the capital city, the 5,000-member militia expanded into the city center, taking over the country's TV and radio broadcasting headquarters. People evacuated from Brazzaville report a city run amuck with looters and vigilante gunmen. "Women were standing by watching and laughing," recalled American missionary Joseph Harvey. "It was like a party."