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France says EU nations to send troops to CAR

Diplomats said that Belgium and Poland may be tapped to contribute soldiers to support the French-African mission.

Last updated: 17 Dec 2013 20:47
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France has deployed 1,600 troops to its former colony [AP]

Some European countries will send troops to support a French-African mission to restore order in the Central African Republic, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

France has deployed 1,600 troops to its former colony to prevent worsening violence between Christian militias and the largely Muslim Seleka rebels who ousted ex-President Francois Bozize.

The continuing violence, the extensive destruction of property, and the forced displacement of the population in
Bangui are feeding enormous anger, hostility and mistrust.

 Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International  

"We will soon have troops on the ground from our European colleagues," Fabius told  parliament, on Tuesday, in response to a question on a lack of European support in Central African Republic.

Hundreds of people were killed in a week of bloodshed which began on December 5 in the country's capital Bangui when fighters of both sides went door-to-door murdering civilians. Some victims were lynched or stoned to death, residents said.

At a European Union foreign ministers meeting on Monday, France had requested more help from allies to bolster its peacekeeping mission beyond logistical and financial aid.

But rights group Amnesty International warned that more troops were urgently needed to protect residents in the capital where it said war crimes had been committed.

"The continuing violence, the extensive destruction of property, and the forced displacement of the population in
Bangui are feeding enormous anger, hostility and mistrust," Amnesty's Christian Mukosa said.

More than 210,000 people have been displaced by violence in Bangui over the last two weeks, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

The UN World Food Programme has warned that up to a quarter of the mineral-rich nation's 5.2 million population risks going hungry.

While European nations including Poland, Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium have provided various forms of assistance, French troops are intervening alone for the second time this year after ousting armed rebels in Mali, another former French colony.

Diplomats said the ground troops involved could come from Belgium and Poland and may be used to relieve French forces who are securing the airport in Bangui.

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Source:
Reuters
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