Two French soldiers have been killed in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui, the presidency said Tuesday, the first reported casualties since French troops entered the restive country last week.
"With much sadness, the president learned of the deaths in combat of two French soldiers last night in Bangui," the Elysee said in a statement.
"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."
France has deployed 1,600 soldiers to its notoriously unstable former colony, a resource-rich but impoverished majority Christian nation that was plunged into chaos after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March coup.
The troops are part of a UN-mandated effort to restore order, with the African Union also due to beef up an existing peacekeeping mission to 6,000 men.
French President Francois Hollande, who is attending Nelson Mandela's memorial service in South Africa, will travel onto Bangui later on Tuesday.