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Brussels (AFP) April 30, 2014
The European Union force sent to help stem deadly sectarian violence in the Central African Republic is operational and has been deployed at Bangui airport, EU sources said Wednesday.
The troops are taking over airport security from French soldiers who will be deployed elsewhere in the strife-torn country.
What is known as the EUFOR-RCA force currently numbers 150 soldiers, contributed mostly by France, the former colonial power in CAR, and Estonia.
The numbers will increase steadily to 800 by June, boosted by troops from Spain, Finland and Italy among others plus from Georgia.
Full strength is 1,000, with the force concentrated in Bangui and at its airport during its six-month mission.
Ultimately, the aim is to hand over to a UN force of some 12,000 tasked with maintaining security in a country riven by clashes between Christians and Muslims.
In the latest violence, two civilians were killed when gunmen ambushed a convoy of some 1,300 Muslims fleeing Bangui on Sunday, international peacekeepers said.
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