World Bulletin / News Desk
Chad began withdrawing its troops from Central African Republic's peacekeeping mission on Friday as a U.N. report accused its soldiers of killing 30 civilians and wounding 300 in an attack on a crowded market last week.
Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat denied the allegation, saying the troops had been ambushed by Christian "anti-balaka" militia and had responded.
A series of violent incidents involving Chadian troops has stoked fury in the former French colony, culminating in Chad's decision on Thursday to withdraw its troops from the African Union peacekeeping force, known as MISCA.
The decision was met with joy in the streets of the capital Bangui on Friday, although the government said in a statement it regretted their withdrawal.
"Chadian officers under MISCA command and around 200 soldiers have left in the direction of Chad," Hassan Sylla, Chad's communications minister, said.
Chad, the Central African region's dominant military power, had around 850 soldiers serving in the peacekeeping force.
Sylla said the first troops left aboard a convoy of a dozen military trucks, escorted to the edge of Bangui by MISCA peacekeepers. French TV news channel France 24 broadcast images of a military plane that had arrived at Bangui's airport to help repatriate the troops.
Chadian forces were also preparing to leave the towns of Bossangoa, Kaga Bandoro, Batangafo, Ndele, Bouca and Kabo, Human Rights Watch researcher Peter Bouckaert said on Twitter, raising fears the power vacuum could leave Muslims vulnerable in the inter-communal violence that has killed thousands.
Chad's troops have been accused of siding with the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels whose seizure of power last year led to tit-for-tat violence with Christian militia.Last Mod: 05 Nisan 2014, 13:00