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Rwanda to send peacekeeping troops to CAR

Kigali will send soldiers to join African Union and French forces in strife-torn country, as violence continues.

Last updated: 20 Dec 2013 09:45
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Human rights groups have warned against escalating war crimes committed in the African nation [Reuters]

Rwanda plans to send troops to assist an African Union-led force restoring security to Central African Republic, where a a peacekeeper died of injuries sustained in an attack.

"Rwanda was asked by the AU to contribute troops to the CAR and deploy urgently, and yes, right now the RDF (Rwanda Defence Force) is preparing to go," Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said on Friday in a message posted on her Twitter account

Saying that Kigali troops will leave for Bangui "very soon," the foreign minister did not give details of how many troops will be sent. Military spokesman Joseph Nzabamwita said the army would announce troop numbers "at the appropriate time".

A Chadian peacekeeper injured in a Thursday attack on a patrol for the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic died, AFP reported citing MISC's spokesman.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both warned against escalating war crimes committed in the African nation that has left more than a thousand killed since clashes started on December 5, and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Both human rights groups called on international community to aid the French 1,600-strong peacekeeping force deployed to CAR alongside AU forces.

The US has been airlifting Burundian troops into the country as part of that force.

Sectarian violence

Christian armed groups, known as the Anti-Balaka, attacked Muslim neighborhoods in Bangui on Friday, according to MISCA's spokesman.

"Anti-balaka fighters attacked the PK 5 neighbourhood and another neighbourhood called Fatima," he said, adding that MISCA troops were on their way to the fighting.

CAR has been reeling in sectarian violence which started in the capital, Bangui, with an early morning attack by Christian militiamen from the Anti-Balaka group who went door to door, killing at least 60 Muslims.

A Muslim rebel group, the de facto government forces known as the Seleka, retaliated against Christians by killing nearly 1,000 men in two days, including a small number of women and children.

The days that followed the initial burst of violence in Bangui, human rights violations and abuses continued at a staggering pace, Amnesty said.

The violence prompted hundreds Central Africans to flee their homes. According to Amnesty, a total of 614,000 people have been displaced across the country, including 189,000 in Bangui alone, about a quarter of the city’s population.

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