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French troops engaged in Central African Republic

BANGUI -- French troops traded fire with former rebels in Central African Republic's capital Bangui on Monday as they sought to disarm fighters after violence that has left hundreds dead, an official from a regional peacekeeping force said.

“I'm here now. The Seleka (ex-rebels) didn't want to disarm. There was a brief exchange of fire, and they ran away,” said Celestin Christ Leon, a communications officer with the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) peacekeepers based at Bangui's airport.

France said it would start disarming fighters by force if necessary on Monday as relative calm returned to Bangui after three days of heavy fighting between Christians and Muslims, in which the Red Cross said at least 394 people were killed.

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