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Obama Calls for Calm in CAR

Bangladeshi laborers unload sand from cargo ship in Dhaka.
President Barack Obama has urged the people of the Central African Republic to remain calm amid mounting sectarian violence.

In a recorded message, Obama addressed the "proud citizens of the Central African Republic,'' saying they have the power "to choose a different path'' than the violence that led to at least 400 deaths in two days of violence last week.

He also called on the transitional government to arrest the people responsible for the violence.

Earlier Monday, a Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. would transport African Union peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic, where the French military is trying to stop sectarian violence. The troops will be flown in from neighboring Burundi.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to the move after the French defense minister asked for the airlift assistance.

He said the United States believes immediate action is needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

France has deployed 1,600 soldiers to the CAR, its former colony, as part of a U.N.-mandated effort aimed at ending months of instability.

The instability in the impoverished country began in March, when the rebel Seleka movement seized power, ousting President Francois Bozize.