France to probe new child rape allegations in C Africa

PARIS - French investigators will probe new allegations by young children of sexual abuse by French soldiers in the Central African Republic, a judicial source said Monday.

The allegations were made to UN investigators last month by a sister and brother, now aged seven and nine, the source said.

The children described being forced to perform oral sex on unidentified soldiers in exchange for water and biscuits in 2014, adding that other children were abused in the same way by several French soldiers on repeated occasions.

The Central African Republic is struggling to recover from a cycle of sectarian violence that exploded after a 2013 coup, pitting mainly Muslim rebels against Christian militias, but international peacekeeping efforts have been undermined by a string of sex abuse claims.

On Friday the Congolese government said it was investigating claims of abuse by members of the UN peacekeeping force known as MINUSCA.

The United Nations has said it will repatriate 120 peacekeepers from the Republic of Congo, after last month asking DR Congo to send home its contingent.

The EU's EUFOR mission has also been targeted by similar complaints.

Among other claims, two teenagers said they were raped by EUFOR soldiers whom they believed to be from Georgia.

Last month, a hard-hitting report found the United Nations had grossly mishandled allegations of child sex abuse in CAR.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fired the head of the force last year, but the claims continue to surface.