France to send 400 more soldiers to Central African Republic

France already has about 1,600 troops in the country.

France plans to send additional 400 soldiers to Central African Republic, CAR, to help combat the violence in its former colony, the French Government said on Friday.

Announcing the temporary increase to 2,000 troops, a statement from President Francois Hollande’s office also urged other countries to show “increased solidarity.’’

He called on the United Nations Security Council to accelerate the deployment of peacekeeping troops in the country.

About a quarter of the population has been displaced by fighting and at least 2,000 people have been killed in CAR.

This was since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group seized power last March in the majority Christian country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier this week that sectarian violence was continuing to worsen in the landlocked country and that he was concerned it could spiral into genocide.

A top UN official warned on Wednesday of “ethnic-religious cleansing’’ as peacekeepers uncovered a mass grave at a military camp occupied by Seleka rebels in the capital, Bangui.

Ban said he asked France to consider sending more troops since the international response to the crisis did “not yet match the gravity of the situation.’’

He told the Security Council in November a UN force of up to 9,000 troops and 1,700 police could be needed for CAR, but that it could only be deployed if certain conditions were in place.

France sent 1,600 troops to the country in December to assist some 5,000 AU peacekeepers.

The EU has also agreed to send around 500 troops with the aim of creating a safe haven in parts of the capital.

(Reuters/NAN)


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