France says other European nations to deploy troops to C Africa

France said other European nations would send troops to the Central African Republic to prop up a military force on the ground attempting to disarm militias dispensing deadly violence.

ANI| Last Updated: Dec 18, 2013, 07:20 AM IST

Bangui: France said other European nations would send troops to the Central African Republic to prop up a military force on the ground attempting to disarm militias dispensing deadly violence.

The United Nations says some 210,000 people have been displaced in the capital Bangui alone in two weeks of unrest largely pitting Christians against Muslims, and France at the weekend called for more help from its European partners to assist its 1,600 troops on the ground.

"We will soon have troops on the ground provided by our European colleagues," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the lower house of parliament in Paris yesterday, without naming the countries.

In Brussels, a Belgian military source told AFP on condition of anonymity that the government was considering the dispatch of some 150 troops for "a protection mission", possibly to secure airports.

The Spanish government, meanwhile, has backed plans to send a Hercules military transport aircraft with a "maintenance and support unit" of up to 60 personnel, subject to parliamentary approval. But it is not likely to include combat troops.

It is as yet unclear whether other countries will also be assisting France on the ground, other than providing logistical help.

Central Africa spiralled into chaos after a March coup in which the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew President Francois Bozize.

France deployed its troops to the impoverished and notoriously unstable country on December 5 under a UN mandate to support an African peacekeeping force that had been struggling to quell the violence.

Some 600 people have been killed in the Central African Republic in less than two weeks and two elite French soldiers have died there in a gun battle.