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UN Pulls Non-Essential Workers from Central African Republic

Fighters from the moderate Ahlu Sunna forces arrive at a road checkpoint outside Mareergur town, 30 km (19 miles) to the north of Dhusamareeb, in central Somalia Dec. 17, 2012. (Reuters)
The United Nations has pulled out all non-essential workers from the war-torn Central African Republic.

About 200 U.N. staffers and family members were temporarily relocated Wednesday -- despite indications from rebels that they would not move against the capital Bangui.

A rebel spokesman, Colonel Narkoyo said the fighters will not march on the capital as long as government troops make no advance toward them.

The spokesman said the rebels plan to hold their positions and wait to start peace talks with the government. But he said if troops try to take the rebels by surprise, they will not sit and wait.

The rebel coalition called Seleka has captured about 10 towns since launching an offensive two weeks ago. The fighters are less than 300 kilometers from Bangui.

Demonstrators marched outside the French and U.S. embassies in Bangui Wednesday to protest the rebel advance. Protesters threw stones and tore down the French flag.

Most demonstrators demanded France, the former colonial power, take action to stop the rebels. But some reportedly accused France of assisting the groups.

The rebel spokesman said the alliance has no backing from France nor any neighboring country.

The U.S. embassy has said it was suspending normal operations until further notice because of increasing insecurity in the C.A.R. The embassy recommends Americans leave the country.

The rebels have threatened to topple C.A.R. President Francois Bozize, who they accuse of failing to implement a 2007 peace accord that ended an earlier rebellion.