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Deby: Central Africa Republic is wound in Africa’s heart

By - | April 18th 2013

Chad's leader has described the Central African Republic as a "wound in the heart of central Africa".

President Idriss Deby was speaking at the start of a regional summit to discuss the situation in the country where rebels seized control last month.

"Armed bands loot, hold to ransom and racketeer the population," Mr Deby said.

The UN children's agency is warning that increasing numbers of children are being wounded in the conflict.

The former rebels have asked both their neighbours and former colonial power France to send extra troops to CAR to help restore security.

South Africa, which lost at least 13 troops during the rebel takeover, has said it is pulling its forces out of CAR.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma is attending the summit, along with central African leaders.

At least 17 people were killed in clashes in Bangui, the Red Cross said, as local residents clashed with the former rebels.

Unicef's emergency co-ordinator in Bangui, Robert McCarthy, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that all armed groups should ensure that children were protected.

"We're calling for: Number one, the protection of children by all parties - by everyone with a gun, everyone in command of soldiers, we have to protect the children, equally women, vulnerable populations.

"Equally, we need security to resume the most basic of life-saving interventions for the aid providers in the city and especially in the countryside."

Rebel leader Michel Djotodia was declared interim president on Saturday and says he will hold elections within 18 months.

His Seleka rebels, an alliance of armed groups, seized power after a peace deal negotiated with Mr Bozize collapsed.

Mr Djotodia is a former civil servant who fell out with Mr Bozize and went into exile, before returning under the peace deal in January as defence minister.

He resigned in March before seizing power.

Correspondents say he does not have widespread international support and has fallen out with some of his former allies.

CAR has an unstable history and is extremely poor, though it has large deposits of minerals including gold and diamonds.



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