Two French soldiers have been killed in the Central African Republic, French President Francois Hollande confirmed on Tuesday.
They are the first French deaths since the country deployed 1,600 troops there following a United Nations Security Council Resolution last week, BBC reports. In a statement, Hollande said he “learned with deep sadness” that the two paratroopers had been killed overnight in the capital of Bangui, where communal fighting has resulted in several hundred deaths.
Hollande was expected to visit the Central African Republic on Tuesday, AFP reports.
The landlocked central African nation has been mired by violence since the Muslim rebel leader Michel Djotodia seized power from president Francois Bozize in March in the Christian-majority country. The UN resolution last week was in response to a string of attacks between Christian self-defense militias and mainly Muslim fighters from the former rebel coalition that Djotodia disbanded after seizing power.
Earlier this year, France sent troops to another one of its former African colonies, Mali, to prevent Islamists and Tuareg rebels from reaching the capital in Bamako. Of the some 4,000 troops deployed there, seven were killed.