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US Military to Provide Air Transport in CAR Conflict

A Chadian soldier holds his weapon in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 9, 2013.
The U.S. military has agreed to transport African Union peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic, where the French military is trying to stop sectarian violence.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to the move after the French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian 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.

Violence in the CAR increased last week when Christian fighters launched an attack on the capital in opposition to former Muslim rebels who now run the government. At least 400 people were killed.

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

Some information was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.