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Central African Republic: France boosts troop presence to 1600

The fighting has left at least 300 people dead and threatened more violence before the arrival of French troops late last week.

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Soldiers of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) patrol in the streets of Bangui on December 7, 2013. (Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)

The African Union is set to increase its troop presence in the embattled Central African Republic, the French president said on Saturday.

"The union is committed and has deployed an African force on the ground. It has decided to bring this force up to 6,000 men," said a statement from the French president' office after a meeting with 40 African leaders, including Central African Republic Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye.

Currently, African Union forces stand at 2,500 men, according to Le Monde.

France has increased its troop presence in its former colony to 1,600 to keep the peace between the Seleka rebel group that seized power in March and Christian self-defence militias.

The fighting has left at least 300 people dead and threatened more violence before the arrival of French troops late last week.

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Sectarian violence has spilled outside the capital Bangui and into surrounding areas.

At the summit meeting on Saturday, France committed itself to helping create an African force by 2015 that can keep the peace in the Central African Republic.

Paris said it will provide weapons, logistics and help with the coordination of the force.

The French president also said that he will ask other European Union members to offer help.

"Europe can play its part," Hollande said.

"For Europe to ensure its own defence, Africa must be able to ensure its own. Our interests are linked. Terrorism knows no borders."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/131207/central-african-republic-france-boosts-troop-presence-1600