WASHINGTON Jan 15 The U.S. military will soon
begin flying Rwandan troops into the Central African Republic,
possibly starting on Thursday, in its second such operation in
support the African Union's efforts to stem bloodshed there, a
U.S. official said on Wednesday.
The U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of
anonymity, said the airlift operation could last just over a
month and would involve two U.S. military C-17 aircraft.
The airlift mission would be very similar to the one the
United States carried out flying forces from Burundi into the
Central African Republic late last year, the official said.
Rwanda's foreign minister has been quoted telling local
radio that the country would send around 800 troops.
The U.S. aircraft would fly out of Uganda into Rwanda's
capital Kigali, where they would load before proceeding onto
Bangui in the Central African Republic, the official said.
A Muslim rebel coalition, Seleka, seized power in Central
African Republic last spring, unleashing a wave of killings and
looting that in turn sparked revenge attacks by the
"anti-balaka" Christian militia.
The United Nations estimates that months of fighting in the
landlocked former French colony has displaced around 1 million
people, or just over a fifth of the population.
The national death toll is difficult to estimate. More than
1,000 people were killed in Bangui alone last month and sporadic
violence has continued despite the presence of 1,600 French
troops and 4,000 African Union peacekeepers.
France's U.N. envoy said on Wednesday that the level of
hatred in Central African Republic between Muslims and
Christians had been underestimated and is creating a "nearly
impossible" situation for African Union and French forces to
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to submit a
report to the Security Council next month with recommendations
for a possible U.N. peacekeeping force that would take over from
the African troops.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Michelle
Nichols and Louis Charbonneau in New York; Editing by Eric