June 4, 2016

France disciplines 5 troops over C. Africa abuse

France disciplines 5 troops over C. Africa abuse

French President Francois Hollande speaks during a joint press conference with his Nigerian counterpart following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abuja on May 14, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

France has disciplined five soldiers accused of physical abuse in Central African Republic, where Paris had sent peacekeepers to quell bloody sectarian violence, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

There are currently three investigations under way into allegations that French troops in the country sexually abused children, but the latest case does not relate to sexual acts, a ministry source said, without giving further details.

The five are accused of physically abusing two Central Africans at a military outpost in the capital Bangui in 2014, according to the Ouest-France newspaper.

“In view of the gravity of the facts, the five soldiers have been suspended,” the ministry said, adding: “Simultaneously disciplinary action has been launched… as a precursor to their eviction from the military.”

France launched the Sangaris military operation in 2013 in its desperately poor and chronically restive former colony after the outbreak of inter-communal violence between Muslim and Christian militias that has killed thousands.

The mission is due to end in December this year, after a progressive draw-down.