France expresses concern for safety of nationals in Gabon

September 5, 2016 2:36 PM EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - France expressed concern on Monday about the safety of several of its nationals following violence in its former colony Gabon triggered by a disputed presidential election.

Fighting erupted in Gabon last week after the announcement of a slim victory for incumbent President Ali Bongo. At least six people have been killed and more than 1,000 arrested during the unrest.

"Arrests have taken place in the past few days. France is without news about several of its compatriots," Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement.

Ayrault welcomed the African Union's offer to help the feuding sides resolve the dispute and called on the Gabonese authorities to work with a heads of state mission that hopes to visit the country soon.

France has had a military base in Gabon since independence in 1960. Gabon is also home to 14,000 French citizens and many French companies have commercial interests there, including in the oil industry.

(Reporting by John Irish, Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Angus MacSwan)



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