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Hundreds in Central African Republic flee to safety

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 6, 2013 at 7:19 a.m.

BANGUI, Central African Republic — Hundreds of people crowded into a field Friday outside Central African Republic's main airport, hoping that French soldiers would protect them after a spasm of bloodshed in the lawless capital left more than 100 people dead.

With the capital, Bangui, hovering at the edge of anarchy, French military reinforcements — including fighter jets, helicopters, parachutists and armored vehicles — rumbled their way into one of the world's poorest countries.

Streets in the city were empty except for military vehicles and the trucks favored by rebel forces who now claim control of the government. Nine unclaimed bodies sprawled in front of the parliament building Friday. Local Red Cross workers didn't dare retrieve them or other bodies left to decay outside.

Despite the cheers that went up when jet engines roared overhead, France insisted it was going only reluctantly into Central African Republic and with limited aims for an expected force of 1,200.

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