PARIS (AP) -- France will send 1,000 troops to Central African Republic under an expected U.N.-backed mission to keep growing chaos at bay, the defense minister said Tuesday - boosting the French military presence in Africa for the second time this year.

Jean-Yves Le Drian made the announcement a day after a top U.N. official warned of mass atrocities and possible civil war in CAR, one of the world's poorest countries, which has been in turmoil since rebel groups joined forces in March and overthrew the president. The rebels have been accused by rights groups of committing scores of atrocities including killings, rapes and conscription of child soldiers.