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April 21, 2014

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EU plans March deployment of CAR peacekeepers

Updated Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 | 4:39 a.m.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — European Union defense ministers say EU peacekeepers are expected to arrive in the Central African Republic in early March to help stop the sectarian violence that has claimed more than 1,000 lives and forced nearly 1 million people to flee.

Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos says the EU peacekeeping force's command center will be in Larissa, Greece. The 28-nation bloc plans to send at least 500 troops.

Avramopoulos spoke Friday after a two-day meeting of EU defense ministers in Athens.

About 1,600 French troops and 6,000 African peacekeepers already are deployed to deter bloodshed between the Muslim minority and Christian majority in the Central African Republic, a country of 4.6 million people that's roughly the size of Texas. France says it plans to deploy 400 more soldiers soon.