Soldiers from an EU-led stabilization force in the Central African Republic are alleged to have sexually abused girls, UN officials said Friday, the latest in a string of similar cases in the country.

Previous allegations had been made against French and UN peacekeepers deployed to bring stability to CAR.

The UN human rights office in Geneva said that two girls told a UN team that they were raped by soldiers of the European Forces Republic of Central Africa (EUFOR) mission, while two others said they were paid to have sex with soldiers from the mission that ended last year.

Three of the four alleged victims named Georgian EUFOR members as the perpetrators.

The girls were between 14 and 16 when the alleged crimes took place in 2014.

In addition, a boy and a girl told UN human rights officers they were each sexually abused in the same year by several French soldiers that were part of France's Sangaris peace operations in CAR.

"The girl said she had performed oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle of water and a sachet of cookies," the UN human rights office reported.

The girl was 7 years old at the time, while the boy was 9.

"As more and more cases emerge, implicating more and more national contingents, it is also clear that all foreign military forces, whether UN or non-UN, must employ much stronger and more effective actions to prevent further abuse and exploitation, and not just in CAR," UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.

The UN high commissioner for human rights has raised the new allegations with European, Georgian and French authorities, which said they had launched investigations or legal proceedings, according to Zeid's office.

A fourth country had also been contacted because of a similar allegation, but further corroboration was still needed in this case, the UN rights office said without naming the country.

"The EU takes these allegations very seriously," an EU foreign policy spokesperson said in a statement, adding: "The EU follows a zero-tolerance policy as regards sexual misconduct or criminal activities."

Fewer than 10 members of the EU-led force - which at the time numbered 750-800 personnel - were implicated in the allegations, an EU source said on condition of anonymity, while defending Georgia's overall contribution to the mission.

"They had a very difficult task to fulfil and even given these ... extremely regrettable allegations at this stage, I can say that they conducted their task in a very professional manner in difficult situations," the source added.

The EU has sent an expert to the UN human rights office and is reviewing any information that could prove relevant, its statement said.

The states that contributed the troops in question would be responsible for any investigation and disciplinary or criminal action, it added.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian alerted the judicial authorities on January 19, after receiving a documentation from the UN high commissioner for human rights, according to sources close to the minister.

The turmoil in CAR, which has killed thousands of people and displaced about 1 million, began in March 2013 after Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew president Francois Bozize, a Christian.

All of the new cases took place in or near the M’Poko camp for displaced people in the capital Bangui, according to the UN findings.

A panel set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon concluded in December that the UN had failed to respond adequately to sexual abuse allegations against foreign soldiers in CAR in the past.

Earlier in January, the United Nations cited lack of discipline and preparedness when it asked Congo to repatriate its 925 peacekeepers from CAR, following allegations that some members of the contingent had sexually abused local women.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.