The head of the African Union has condemned rebels' seizure of power in the Central African Republic and has urged members to make a "unified, decisive response".
France is sending more troops to the Central African Republic to protect its citizens there after rebels seized the capital Bangui, the French president's office said today.
The statement gave no details of troop numbers, but said President Francois Hollande had spoken with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Chadian President Idriss Deby and repeated his plea for restraint and dialogue between all parties.
Central African Republic President Francois Bozize has been forced to leave the presidential palace as the Seleka rebels seized control of the capital today.
Witnesses reported heavy gunfire and Government spokesman Crepin Mboli-Goumba said the rebels controlled all the strategic locations in the city.
– Presidency spokesman Gaston Mackouzangba
The rebels control the town. I hope there will not be any reprisals.
Bozize has sought refuge in neighbouring Congo, crossing the Oubangi river into the Democratic Republic on Sunday morning, an unnamed presidential advisor said.
The US said has said it is suspending operations at its embassy in the Central African Republic as rebels appeared poised to press on towards the capital Bangui.
US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the decision was made "solely due to concerns about the security of our personnel," many of whom have already left the country.
It follows protests and attacks outside the French Embassy in the capital on Wednesday.