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SANDF won't reveal CAR plans

The SANDF said the decision to evacuate soldiers or to send in reinforcements was a political one.

hief of the South African Defense Force General Solly Shoke says withdrawing the troops from the Central African Republic is not an option. Picture: Lesego Ngobeni/EWN.

PRETORIA - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will not reveal what logistical plans are in place should it need to urgently pull its troops from the Central African Republic (CAR).

It said the decision to evacuate soldiers or to send in reinforcements was a political one.

The comments come after 13 South African soldiers were killed and 27 others wounded during clashes with rebels in the central African country at the weekend. One soldier is still missing.

Seleka rebels took control of the capital forcing President Francois Bozize to flee the country.

SANDF General Solly Shoke said casualties will not be the reason they choose to withdraw troops from the CAR and that running away is not an option.

"The safety of our people is of paramount importance and we will use all means at our disposal."

Shoke sidestepped questions about when a decision will be taken.

He said it would depend on the political situation in the troubled country.

"The SANDF is not a law unto itself. We respect authority."

The general said soldiers who were critically wounded were evacuated, while some returned to duty.

He said South African troops were attacked by more than 3,000 well-armed rebels.

NEW HEAD OF STATE

A rebel leader on Monday announced himself as the country's new head of state.

Speaking in Pretoria on Monday, President Jacob Zuma said South Africa rejected any attempt to seize power by force.

He said South Africa took its cue from the African Union (AU) and would not endorse a coup.

"South Africa will support sanctions and other measures against the perpetrators of any unconstitutional change in government."

CAR was formally suspended from the AU on Monday.

The AU called on all member states to alienate the country's new leadership.

But despite the AU's stance, a rebel leader told a French news network that he was now the country's head of state.

Zuma said South Africa will not be deterred.

"Our responsibility is to support the prevention of the military overthrow of the democratically elected government."

He said South Africa's soldiers bravely protected themselves from attack.