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Central African Republic defense minister sacked amid growing violence

Central African Republic defense minister sacked amid growing violence

((This Sept. 12 story corrects name of sacked minister in paragraph 2))

BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic president Faustin-Archange Touadera sacked his defense minister on Tuesday evening, according to a state radio broadcast, amid growing violence that threatens to spin the country out of control.

The dismissal of Joseph Yakete was part of a wider Cabinet reshuffle. The statement did not say if his dismissal was related directly to growing violence.

Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have fled a conflict that broke out after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.

Although unrest has since subsided, fighting has spiked this year and the United Nations warned this month that ethnic fighting could descend again into a much larger conflict if combatants are not disarmed.

National security forces are too weak to tackle armed groups and counter the spillover from conflicts in neighboring countries, said the United Nations.

In a sign of the deteriorating security situation, six Red Cross volunteers were killed in an attack on a health center in southeastern Central African Republic on Aug. 3, the aid organization said last month. REUTERS