France has begun deploying troops to the north and east of the Central African Republic (CAR) to join an African-led stabilization force in the violence-stricken country.
“The French forces, pre-positioned in Cameroon, have crossed the border and have started reconnaissance missions in the east,” French army spokesman, Gilles Jarron, announced on Saturday.
Jarron further stated that the French forces have started their first operations from the CAR capital, Bangui, toward the north of the country.
According to the military official, the French contingent is currently at its full strength of 1,200 forces with the new deployment of some 200 French soldiers, who crossed the border from Cameroon into the CAR on Saturday.
On December 5, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution giving the African Union and France the go-ahead to send troops to the CAR. According to the resolution, up to 3,600 African and 1,200 French troops are authorized to contain the violence there.
The resolution was approved shortly after the latest wave of violence in France’s former colony claimed at least 300 lives.
The Central African Republic has been unstable since independence from France in 1960. It plunged into chaos in March after Seleka rebels overthrew the government.
The Seleka rebels, who launched an offensive against the government in December 2012 and finally ousted former president, Francois Bozize, in March, have been accused of killing, looting, and raping across the country.
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