- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

PARIS (AP) - The Paris prosecutor’s office says an investigation into alleged child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic has concluded without anyone being charged.

Spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Leroux said Thursday the investigation formally ended last month. She declined to elaborate.

French newspaper Le Monde reported that the decision stemmed from insufficient “elements” to press charges.

Several boys told United Nations investigators they were sexually abused by French troops in the Central African Republic capital, Bangui, in May and June 2014. Fourteen French soldiers reportedly were suspected of being involved.

The sexual abuse allegedly took place in or near a camp for displaced people near M’Poko airport.

The French defense ministry did not immediately comment.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he understands that it’s now up to the prosecutor to decide whether to go forward, following the submission of results from the investigative judges.

“So obviously we’ll keep an eye on this,” Dujarric said. “But as we’ve said, it is the responsibility of member states to fully investigate and hopefully prosecute crimes. The fight against impunity for these horrendous actions has to be a partnership between the U.N. and member states.”

A special unit of the military police also investigates possible offenses or crimes perpetrated by French troops based abroad, including in the Central African Republic.

A separate probe into alleged sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and French troops between 2013 and 2015 in the town of Dekoa is ongoing. The U.N. referred the allegations to the French defense ministry in April 2016.

At the time, the U.N. reported that more than 100 girls and women have come forward with sexual abuse accusations against international troops in CAR.

France, Central African Republic’s former colonial ruler, sent troops to the country in late 2013 amid violence between Christians and Muslims.

A U.N. peacekeeping mission began the next year to help stabilize the country.

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Associated Press Writer Edith Lederer contributed from New York.

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