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Two French soldiers have been killed in the Central African Republic, officials in Paris have confirmed - reports Sky News.
The deaths represent the first French casualties since President Francois Hollande deployed 1,600 troops to restore order there. A statement from the Elysee Palace said: "With much sadness, the president learned of the deaths in combat of two French soldiers last night in Bangui. "They lost their lives to save many others.
"The president expresses his profound respect for the sacrifice of these two soldiers and renews his full confidence in the French forces committed - alongside African forces - to restoring security in the Central African Republic, to protecting the people and guaranteeing access to humanitarian aid." Mr Hollande, who is in South Africa to attend the memorial for Nelson Mandela, was due to visit French troops in the Central African Republic later along with foreign minister Laurent Fabius. The French troops are part of a UN-mandated effort to restore order in the CAR, a former French colony and one of the world's poorest countries.
The African Union is due to boost the existing peacekeeping mission to 6,000 men. On Monday, peacekeeping troops began disarming fighters after a wave of sectarian violence in the capital left nearly 400 people dead.