France deploys troops to secure CAR capital after clashes

PARIS Thu Dec 5, 2013 6:59am EST

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PARIS (Reuters) - The French army deployed 250 troops to the capital of the Central African Republic, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday after clashes broke out between former rebels and militias.

"At this stage 250 French soldiers have been deployed in Bangui to secure and patrol," ministry spokesman Gilles Jarron told a news briefing, adding that the clashes were continuing.

Earlier, a Reuters witness said at least 23 people were killed and 64 others wounded in armed clashes in Bangui.

France now has around 650 troops in the capital and a further 350 on stand-by in neighboring Cameroon as part of a total force expected to rise to 1,200.

Former rebels controlling Bangui said earlier they had come under attack from local militia and fighters loyal to ousted president Francois Bozize. The violence comes hours before the U.N. was expected to authorize a French mission to intervene.

(Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Leila Abboud)

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