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Estonian Troops Leave for Central African Republic

Fifty Estonian soldiers set off this morning from the Ämari airbase to the Central African Republic to join the EU's EUFOR RCA mission.

The troops, led by Lieutenant Colonel Sten Allik, will be based in the nation's capital, Bangui (population 750,000), and will take part in support missions allowing African Union and French units to take part in operations. The mission will last until the end of August.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas told the soldiers that helping Estonia's allies in time of need guarantees Estonia will itself receive assistance when in need.

The EUFOR RCA mission will have around 1,000 soldiers when in full force, but 2,000 French and 6,000 African Union troops are also in the country.

Sectarian violence broke out in the Central African Republic last year, leading to ethnic violence that has seen nearly the entire Muslim population to flee the capital. At least 2,000 people have been killed in the country since March 2013, when Muslim rebels, known as Seleka, ousted President Francois Bozize. 

The rebels have since been forced from power, but Christian and Muslim militias have continued to battle for control of the country. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and many have fled the country.

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