UK & World News

  • 6 December 2013, 15:56

UK Flies Military Kit To Central African Republic

Britain is flying military equipment to the Central African Republic to help with France's armed intervention.

An RAF C-17 transport aircraft was due to arrive in the country  to assist the French military effort, which began pouring into the capital Bangui overnight to quell violence that has erupted on the streets.

Ninety-two people have been reported dead in just one hospital over two days of fighting after Bangui was attacked, reportedly by militias loyal to former president Francois Bozize.

The violence left dozens of bodies strewn in the streets, according to witnesses.

Hundreds of people have reportedly fled to the country's main airport to seek the protection of French troops, who are understood to have killed several armed men in the area.

The Central African Republic, a country rich in minerals but surrounded by the unstable states of Congo, Chad and Sudan, has been in a state of turmoil since rebel groups seized power in March, ousting Mr Bozize.

Some 400,000 people are estimated to have been forced from their homes since the violence began.

Hague said in a statement that the aircraft would make three flights this month - the first due to land "shortly".

The Foreign Office has said that sending British troops to the country is "not on the table," but that Britain was "determined to play our part in helping to address the violence".

"We have therefore agreed with the government of France that we will help move French equipment to CAR by means of a UK C-17 transport aircraft," Hague said.

A Security Council resolution authorised African Union and French troops to respond to the security and humanitarian crisis in the country following UN warnings the violence could spiral into genocide.

The resolution said up to 3,600 African and 1,200 French troops could be deployed to contain the violence, which the UN estimates has affected nearly every person in the country.

"You have to secure, you have to disarm," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Radio France Internationale.

"You have to ensure that the vandals, the bandits, the militias know they can't use the streets of Bangui for their battles."

The landlocked country covers an area of about 240,000 sq miles (620,000 sq km) and has an estimated population of 4.4 million people, a third of whom are facing a severe shortage of food as a result of the fighting.

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