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Chad says UN accusations over C. Africa killings 'defamatory'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Chad on Saturday dismissed as "defamatory and tendentious" UN accusations that its troops carried out an unprovoked attack when they opened fire in a crowded market in the Central African Republic's capital, killing at least 30 people.

"The government of the Republic of Chad expresses its surprise and indignation faced with the purported investigation published by the United Nations Human Rights Commission," said a government statement sent to AFP.

On Friday the UN said that an investigation into the attack on March 29 in Bangui found that Chadian troops had "opened fire on the population without any provocation."

"As panic-stricken people fled in all directions, the soldiers allegedly continued firing indiscriminately," said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN human rights arm.

"According to our preliminary findings, at least 30 people were killed as a result of the shooting and over 300 were seriously injured, including children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly, as these were the people least able to run for their lives.

"Why they start shooting like this in the marketplace is not clear," he added.

The attack apparently ended when Congolese peacekeepers arrived, said Colville.

The damning findings came a day after Chad -- whose troops have faced repeated accusations of siding with Muslims in Central Africa's bloody sectarian violence -- angrily announced that it was withdrawing from the African peacekeeping force struggling to restore security in the strife-torn country.

Chad said Thursday it was pulling its troops from MISCA because of "a wanton and malicious campaign" against them.

Chadian soldiers in the 6,000-strong peacekeeping force have reportedly been jittery after what MISCA says have been targeted attacks on the Chadian contingent.

Chadian soldiers have been accused of siding with the mainly Muslim Seleka movement -- which seized power in March 2013 and held it until January this year -- and of condoning the abuses carried out by some of them against the majority Christian population.

Chad has always denied the charges, and has said it wants to keep working with its neighbour to rebuild security there.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140405/chad-says-un-accusations-over-c-africa-killings-defamatory-0