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CAR's Ex-President Seeking Exile in Benin; Overnight Unrest in CAR

The Central African Republic's former president, Michel Djotodia, has arrived in Benin, where officials say he is seeking exile after resigning under pressure.

Mr. Djotodia arrived in Cotonou on Saturday, one day after an African regional bloc announced his resignation and the departure of Prime Minister Nicolas Tiengaye.

The two interim government leaders had been unable to rein in spiraling violence in the CAR that has left more than 1,000 people dead and nearly 1 million displaced from their homes.

Reporter Nick Long, in Bangui, told VOA said the capital was mostly quiet Saturday, after widespread violence and looting overnight.

"I was hearing shooting during the night, a fair amount of shooting," Long said, adding that there was "much less today. ... It has calmed down. ... During the night, a good deal of that shooting was probably people shooting to ward off or deter looters who were attacking or trying to attack shops, particularly Muslim-owned shops. But some of the shooting was clashes between armed groups and there were people killed."

African and French forces are deployed in the CAR to help curb the unrest, which has largely been between ex-Seleka rebels, most of whom are Muslims, and Christian militia groups known as anti-balaka.

French forces told reporters they have only a limited ability to smother the unrest.

"The French were suggesting that security is still a relative concept here, and they do stress they can't be everywhere," reporter Nick Long told VOA. "When people ask them, 'What are you doing to prevent the looting of shops?' they say, 'We have to put the people's physical security above the security of property at the moment' - which shows the limitations of what they can do."

The International Organization for Migration is flying stranded foreign nationals out of Bangui following appeals from neighboring African countries.

The first three IOM charter flights in the coming days will repatriate about 800 Chadians from the war-torn Bangui to N'Djamena.

The 800 are part of a group of 2,500 Chadians sheltering in a transit camp adjacent to Bangui airport, living in miserable conditions at the overcrowded and unsanitary site.

An estimated 100,000 people are now camped out around the Bangui airport. Thousands of other civilians have sought refuge at other sites across the CAR.

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