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C. African Republic hospitals looted after coup

BANGUI, Central African Republic -- Aid groups and the international community condemned widespread looting in Bangui on Tuesday, saying even hospitals had been robbed in the aftermath of a weekend coup that ousted the president of a decade.

Efforts to restore order to the capital, a city of 700,000, came as a rebel leader, Michel Djotodia, declared himself president, saying he would stay in power for three years.

Continuing violence in Central African Republic was preventing critically wounded patients from getting the help they needed, said the French medical aid group, Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders.

"MSF condemns the looting and robberies of our facilities and reminds all parties that medical personnel must be respected and protected and must be granted all available help in the performance of their duties," said Serge St. Louis, MSF head of mission in Bangui.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky also said that "widespread looting is continuing, including of one pediatric hospital."

More than 1,000 armed rebels from the alliance known as Seleka attacked the capital on Saturday, forcing longtime President François Bozizé into exile in Cameroon. The fierce fighting left at least 13 South African soldiers dead and an untold number of civilian casualties.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell sharply criticized the "illegitimate seizure of power." "We strongly condemn these actions," Ventrell told reporters. "The Seleka leadership must account for its trail of destruction."

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