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'New soldier death toll report an insult to SA Govt'

French news agency RFI reported that between 36 to 50 SA soldiers were killed in CAR.

SANDF soldiers carry the bodies of their colleagues killed in the Central African Republic on 24 March 2013. Picture: Alex Eliseev/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Thursday reports by a French news agency about the number of South African soldiers killed in the Central African Republic (CAR) is an insult to government.

France's official news agency RFI reported that rebels in the CAR said the number of South African soldiers who died in battle last month ranges between 36 and 50.

The official death toll from government was 13.

The SANDF's Xolani Mabanga has dismissed these claims.

"Anybody who has a figure more than 13 is more than welcome to bring the bodies of our personnel to the SANDF."

Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Union (SANDU) has welcomed the decision to withdraw all South Africa's troops from the CAR.

President Jacob Zuma attended an emergency summit in Chad on Wednesday where a decision was taken not to recognise the rebel government in the CAR.

This means South Africa's agreements with that country effectively fall away.

Whatever troops remain in the CAR will now be withdrawn, although most of the soldiers have been brought home already.

SANDU National Secretary Pikkie Greef said they were satisfied with the decision.

"SANDU is delighted to hear about the withdrawal of the troops. This is what we've been calling for over the past week. We must however caution that it does not mean our troops will not be deployed there again in the future."

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