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U.S. pledges $40 million for Central Africa peacekeepers as violence escalates

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States expressed concern on Wednesday about growing violence and lawlessness in Central African Republic and pledged $40 million toward an African Union-led peacekeeping force to bolster security throughout the country and protect civilians.

"The United States sees no evidence that the CAR transitional government has the capacity or political will to end the violence, especially the abuses committed by elements of the Seleka rebel alliance that are affiliated with the government," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

He called on the international community to support the peacekeeping force "in order to restore security in the country" and said the United States would work with other nations to press for a credible political transition.

Thousands of people have fled clashes between former rebels and local militias in recent days and concern is rising about violence between Muslims and Christians.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he may be prepared to deploy U.N. peacekeepers to Central African Republic. Kerry said the United States believed that the African peacekeeping force was the best mechanism to quickly tackle the violence and prevent further atrocities.

There is a now a 2,500-strong regional peacekeeping force in Central African Republic. The African Union is due to take charge of the force in December and boost its size to 3,600 troops.

U.N. officials have warned that the country is at risk of genocide as armed groups incite Christians and Muslims against each other in the virtually lawless country.

The landlocked, mineral-rich country of 4.6 million people has slipped into chaos since northern Seleka rebels seized the capital of Bangui and ousted President Francois Bozize in March, unleashing a wave of violence.

Seleka leader Michel Djotodia, installed as transitional president, officially dissolved a loose coalition of rebel forces but has been unable to stop clashes with self-defense militias, known as the 'anti-balaka,' or anti-machetes.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; editing by Christopher Wilson)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/131121/us-pledges-40-million-central-africa-peacekeepers-violence-esca