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Troops sent to protect SA soldiers in CAR

About 200 SA troops were deployed to CAR to protect soldiers who were there on a training exercise.

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize arrives before the round table of the partners of the Central African Republic held in Brussels on June 17, 2011. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on Sunday announced that about 200 South African troops were deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR) to protect their compatriots already there on a training exercise.

SANDF spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini was adamant the South Africans were not sent there to prop up President Francois Bozize, who is under rebel attack.

A military cooperation agreement with the CAR was renewed for a further five years by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula when she visited the country's capital, Bangui, earlier in January.

The agreement provides for the deployment of 400 South African troops in the CAR to help with capacity building and training.

Dlamini said troops were not there to protect Bozize, who is due to go into talks on Tuesday with rebels who mounted an insurrection last month and are advancing on the capital.

She said it was not immediately clear whether more SANDF members would deployed to Bangui.

"The assessment on the ground will give us an indication of what steps to take next. It is still early days."