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French CAF force reaches full strength, deploys outside Bangui

French CAF force reaches full strength, deploys outside Bangui
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More than 300 people are now known to have died in the outbreak of violence in the Central African Republic, which the French and African Union are speeding to end before it spins out of control.

French forces are now at full strength, 1,400 extra troops on top of the 400-600 already in place, arriving at Bangui airport and heading out to patrol the city and secure the terrain around it. RAF transport planes have been assisting with the airlift.

The city’s morgue is now overflowing with the victims, mostly Christian, of the Muslim Seleka irregulars who took power here in March, and the Christian militias of “anti-Balaka” as they are known, who have risen up to fight the Seleka.

Humanitarian organisations say around half the country’s 4.4 million people have fled their homes. Villages are deserted as people hide in the undergrowth from the roaming militias.

Others have flocked to Bangui airport, calculating that wherever the French are the militias are unlikely to attack. The airport is no refugee camp. Thousands are sleeping out huddled on the grass between runways.