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France deploys drones to support UN force in Central African Republic

media Members of Union for Peace in CAR (UPC) militia, a branch of ex-Seleka, … Members of the UPC militia in the CAR's Ouaka province in January Edouard Dropsy/RFI

French tactical drones have been deployed in the Central Afircan Republic (CAR) to back up the UN force in the country, Minusca, it was announced on Thursday.

A detachment of about 100 French soldiers has been operating the drones from a base in Chaumont, east of Paris, since 20 May, the army command revealed.

The unmanned aerial vehicles are not armed and are used for intelligence-gathering to "better find out the threat that certain armed groups represent to civilian populations and territorial integrity", according to Minusca spokesman Vladimir Monteiro.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister at the time, promised to make the drones available in September 2016.

France has 50 soldiers working as part of a European Union training mission in CAR.

French troops intervened in the country in December 2013 in response to an eruption of violence that followed the overthrow of president François Bozizé.

Their Sangaris operation ended in October 2016, to be followed by Minusca, which currently comprises about 12,500 troops.

While calm has been restored to the capital, Bangui, violence has been rising in the interior of the country since November.

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