BANGUI, Central African Republic Security concerns deepened in the capital of Central African Republic on Friday after the U.S. ambassador and his diplomatic team were evacuated out of the country by plane overnight amid fears rebels could try to take the capital.
U.S. officials said about 40 people were evacuated on an U.S. Air Force plane bound for Kenya. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the details of the operation.
The evacuation came after President Francois Bozize on Thursday urgently called on former colonial ruler France and other foreign powers to help his government fend off rebels who are quickly seizing territory and approaching the capital.
The U.N.'s most powerful body condemned the recent violence and expressed concern about the developments.
"The members of the Security Council reiterate their demand that the armed groups immediately cease hostilities, withdraw from captured cities and cease any further advance towards the city of Bangui," the statement said.
Central African Republic has a history of violent change in government. The current president himself came to power nearly a decade ago in the wake of a rebellion in this resource-rich yet deeply poor country.
Speaking to crowds in Bangui, a city of some 600,000, Bozize pleaded with foreign powers to do what they could. He pointed in particular to France, Central African Republic's former colonial ruler. About 200 French soldiers are already in the country, providing technical support and helping to train the local army, according to the French defense ministry.
"France has the means to stop (the rebels) but unfortunately they have done nothing for us until now," Bozize said.