French defense chief urges soldiers to admit African abuse

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PARIS (AP) — France's defense minister wants any soldiers involved in alleged sexual abuse of boys in Central African Republic to come forward to limit the damage to the military's image.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper Sunday, described his "disgust" at reading a report last year detailing the accusations.

Residents of a camp for displaced persons have told The Associated Press that French soldiers, tasked with protecting civilians in the former colony amid sectarian violence, had sexually abused boys as young as nine. The allegations became public last week and French authorities are investigating.

Suggesting some alleged perpetrators still haven't been identified, Le Drian urged anyone involved to immediately come clean and "denounce" the actions, which he said "betray comrades, France's image and the military's mission."

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