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Popular support falling for French CAR military operation: poll

French soldiers take position on their tank while they monitor displaced people leaving after a food distribution process was cancelled in S
French soldiers take position on their tank while they monitor displaced people leaving after a food distribution process was cancelled in S

PARIS (Reuters) - Domestic support for a French peacekeeping operation in Central African Republic has fallen quickly since the deaths of two young soldiers, a poll showed on Saturday.

Nicolas Vokaer, 23, and Antoine Le Quinio, 22, were killed in a firefight during a patrol in the Central African capital of Bangui early on December 10, days after France deployed 1,600 troops to its former colony.

The UN-authorized mission has helped to quell violence that killed at least 600 people as Muslim Seleka rebels who toppled President Francois Bozize clashed with Christian militias.

But according to an Ifop opinion survey conducted between December 11 and 13 and published in the Journal du Dimanche weekly paper, support at home for the "Sangaris" mission has tumbled to 44 percent from 51 percent on December 6-7.

Support has fallen faster than during a French-led military launched in January operation to oust Islamist rebels in Mali, Ifop said in a note accompanying its poll.

One thousand and two people aged 18 and over were questioned in the poll.

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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