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Friday, December 01, 2006

French fighter jets open fire on Central African rebels

French fighter jets opened fire against rebels operating in two towns in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR), France's armed forces told AFP.

"The Mirages fired in two places, in Ouadda and N'Dele, where the Central African armed forces were once more engaged with 14.5 millimetre heavy machine guns," said armed forces chief of staff spokesman Captain Christophe Prazuck.

"They suffered casualties within their ranks and asked each time for the French support to intervene," he said.

The spokesman said the French jets had been "providing aerial backup to the Central African forces which we support."

No details were available on rebel casualties.

French warplanes opened fire on Monday on rebels in Birao in the northeast of the country, after coming under fire from the ground, according to the armed forces.

Central African President Francois Bozize earlier this month called for military help from France to counter the rebels, who he claims have backing from Sudan.

The French contingent permanently in Bangui is tasked with training government soldiers and lending support to troops sent in 2002 by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, of which the CAR is a member.
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