Hagel orders US troops to airlift to Central African Republic

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is directing the military to transport troops from Burundi to the Central African Republic.

Pentagon spokesman Carl Woog said in a statement that Hagel ordered U.S. forces assist the French in airlifting African troops to quickly deploy and prevent further sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.

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“The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic,” Woog said.

Hagel directed U.S. Africa Command to assist in the operation after speaking Monday with French Defense Minister Yves Le Drian.

The French are aiding an African Union-led mission in the Central African Republic.

There are more than 1,000 French troops on the ground there, according to the Associated Press, after Christian fighters opposed to Muslim ex-rebels now in charge launched an attack on the capital that killed roughly 400 people last week.