France begins troop drawdown in Central African Republic

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File: AP
File: AP

Paris - France announced on Thursday it was reducing its troop numbers in the Central African Republic as it gradually hands over to an 8 500-strong UN peacekeeping force brought in to contain a deadly sectarian conflict.

"We are going to begin a first cutback phase in the following days, going from 2 000 to 1 700 men," army spokesman Gilles Jaron said.

France's Operation Sangaris will be reorganised around two zones - one between the capital Bangui and the central town of Bambari and the other around Kaga Bandoro and Ndele further north - with the UN mission MINUSCA taking over almost all the responsibility in the east, Jaron said.

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