UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended 560 troops be sent to the Central African Republic to protect a United Nations political mission in the virtually lawless country.
The landlocked, mineral-rich country has slipped into chaos since northern Seleka rebels seized the capital, Bangui, and ousted President Francois Bozize in March.
UN officials and rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution this month urging the United Nations to consider establishing a full-fledged peacekeeping force and asking Ban for interim plans for a guard force to protect the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office, known as BINUCA.
"Initially composed of 250 military personnel deployed in Bangui, the guard unit would, in a second phase, increase its strength to a battalion size unit of 560 military personnel, with its own enablers, in order to progressively deploy to locations outside Bangui where the United Nations has a presence," Ban said in a letter to the 15-member council.
He said that given the urgency of the situation, as an interim measure the 250 troops could be temporarily redeployed from another UN peacekeeping operation. The guards would provide perimeter security and access control.