Bangui — As rebels advance in Central African Republic, France has deployed an additional 180 troops to protect its interests.
The French reinforcements arrived Sunday from nearby Gabon, bringing the total French military force in the capital, Bangui, to nearly 600, Col. Thierry Burkhard told The Associated Press Sunday. The troops are to protect French residents in the capital, which many fear will be attacked by the rebels.
As fears mounted that the rebels would attack Bangui, a city of 600,000, President Francois Bozize imposed a curfew from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m.
Bozize earlier appealed to France for help against the rebels, but French President Francois Hollande's government said it would only protect French interests and would not prop up the Bangui government.
The African Union is attempting to set up negotiations in Gabon between the Bozize government and the rebels.
The rebel forces have seized at least 10 cities across the sparsely populated north of the country. Residents in the capital now fear the
insurgents could attack at any time, despite assurances by rebel leaders that they are willing to engage in dialogue instead of attacking Bangui.