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Zuma says no plan to pull troops from C.Africa despite deaths

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

South Africa has no immediate plans to pull out its troops from the Central Africa Republic, President Jacob Zuma said Monday after 13 soldiers were killed in clashes with rebels at the weekend.

"We have not taken a decision to withdraw," Zuma told reporters.

"There is no reason for us to leave... we are looking at how to reinforce our forces and how to move forward," he said.

South Africa deployed 200 soldiers to Central Africa in January to support the poorly trained, ill-equipped government troops following an offensive launched by the Seleka rebel coalition in December.

The rebels on Sunday seized control of the capital Bangui after a rapid offensive launched after the collapse of a January peace deal, prompting President Francois Bozize to flee.

"As a member of the African Union, South Africa rejects any efforts to seize power by force," Zuma told reporters.

He said at least 13 South African troops were killed and 27 wounded in fighting with the rebels at the weekend.

"During the battle 13 of our soldiers fell, one is unaccounted for," said Zuma.

"Just over 200 of our soldiers fought bandits who wanted to cause harm... but the actions of these bandits would not deter us from from our mission of peace and security," he said.

"Once the dust has settled we will then assess whether our presence there is still needed."

sk-sn/txw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130325/zuma-says-no-plan-pull-troops-cafrica-despite-deaths