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France - CAR

Two French soldiers killed in Central African Republic, Hollande to visit

French soldiers on patrol in Bangui, 8th December 2013.
French soldiers on patrol in Bangui, 8th December 2013. Reuters/Herve Serefio

Two French soldiers have been killed in Bangui, capital of the Central African RepublicIn the first reported casualties since French troops entered the restive country last week.

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"With much sadness, the president learned of the deaths in combat of two French soldiers last night in Bangui," said a statement from the French presidency.

"They lost their lives to save many others…..The president expresses his profound respect for the sacrifice of these two soldiers and renews his full confidence in the French forces committed, alongside African forces, to restoring security in the Central African Republic, to protecting the people and guaranteeing access to humanitarian aid."

France has deployed 1,600 soldiers to this unstable former colony, a resource-rich but impoverished majority Christian nation that was plunged into chaos after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March coup.

The troops are part of a UN-mandated effort to restore order, with the African Union also due to beef up an existing peacekeeping mission to 6,000 men.

On Monday, they began disarming fighters in Central Africa after a wave of sectarian violence in the capital left nearly 400 people dead.

French President Francois Hollande, who is attending Nelson Mandela's memorial service in South Africa, will travel onto Bangui later on Tuesday along with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

 

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