October 7, 2016 / 1:19 PM / 3 years ago

France says vigilant on Central African Republic violence as pullout nears

PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Friday it was keeping an eye on the worsening security situation in Central African Republic, but that there was no change in the timeframe to withdraw the bulk of its troops by the end of the month.

Eleven people were killed in clashes in the capital Bangui this week set off by the murder of an army officer. Fighting between armed groups also killed at least six civilians in a north-western province last week, where unidentified assailants fired on U.N. peacekeepers.

“We are vigilant on these events, but the calendar has not been modified,” Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told reporters in a weekly briefing.

France deployed more than 2,000 troops to its former colony in 2013 after widespread violence involving Muslim-led rebels and Christian militias erupted. Its defense minister is due in Bangui later this month to officially end his country’s Sangaris mission in the Central African Republic.

It has already cut back its presence to just 350, handing over most peacekeeping operations to U.N. forces, although the Central African Republic government had hoped Paris would slow its withdrawal.

Reporting By John Irish

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