Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Two French soldiers have been killed Tuesday in combat in the Central African Republic, according to the French presidency.
French President Francois Hollande reportedly learned overnight about the death of the two soldiers. They are the first deaths among French troops since their deployment last week.
"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," a statement released by Hollande's office said.
"They lost their life to save many others," it said.
France sent around 1,200 troops to CAR last week on a mission to prevent further sectarian-fueled violence. Hundreds of civilians have been killed there in recent weeks, in fighting between Muslim Seleka militants and groups of mainly Christian vigilante fighters.