France to send more troops to conflict-torn Central African Republic

PARIS, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- France will send more troops to help quell violence in the troubled Central African Republic, French defense officials said Friday.

Following the decision by a top defense committee, President Francois Hollande met with Chadian president Idriss Deby at the presidential palace, Radio France International reported.


Deby is an influential player in the African region. A coup by Seleka rebels set off conflict in CAR in March 2013.

France already has 1,600 troops in CAR as part of a U.N.-backed intervention.

UNICEF, the United Nations' children's aid group, said Friday it was "horrified" by "unprecedented" cruelty and violence experienced by children during the CAR conflict.

"Children are increasingly targeted because of their religion, or because of their community," UNICEF's West and Central Africa regional director, Manuel Fontaine, said in a statement. "Sectarian violence in Central African Republic has intensified, both in the capital Bangui, and in the west and center of the country."

UNICEF says at least 133 children have been killed or maimed in the last two months of violence. Some of them have been beheaded, while some wounded children have had limbs amputated because fighting prevented them from getting medical treatment in a timely manner.

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