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US evacuates Central African Republic embassy

The US has evacuated its embassy in the Central African Republic. The State Department ordered its diplomats to leave the country as rebels advance on the capital of Bangui.

The US said Thursday it was suspending operations at its embassy in the Central African Republic.

The move comes amid increased security fears as rebel forces continue seizing land in the north of the country.

The State Department said it had not broken off diplomatic ties with the Central African Republic, but warned its citizens not to travel to the country while unrest continues.

State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the ambassador and other embassy personnel had left the country. Some 40 people in total were flown out of Bangui on a US Air Force plane to Kenya.

"This is solely due to concerns about the security of our personnel and has no relation to our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic," Ventrell said in a statement.

A rebel coalition, known as Seleka - which means "alliance" in the country's Sango language - has taken at least 10 towns in the north of the country, including a diamond mining hub, since fighting began earlier this month.

Government troops have fallen back as rebels move increasingly closer to the capital. President Francois Bozize has appealed to the US and its former colonial power France for help.

The United Nations has also pulled non-essential staff out of the country. France ordered increased military security around its embassy in the capital Wednesday after a protest asking for French intervention outside the building (pictured above) turned violent.

dr/jr (AFP, Reuters, AP)