France confirmed that two of its soldiers have been killed in the Central African Republic, where they have been working to end months of instability and violence.
President Francois Hollande's office said Tuesday the soldiers were killed in overnight fighting in the capital, Bangui. The statement reiterated Hollande's support for the 1,600 French troops working along with African forces as part of a U.N.-mandated effort to restore security and protect civilians.
Hollande is due to travel to the country later Tuesday.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama issued a recorded message to the people of the C.A.R., urging them to remain calm in the middle of rising sectarian violence that led to at least 400 deaths in two days last week.
He urged them to "choose a different path."
"Respected leaders in your communities, Muslim and Christian, are calling for calm and peace. I call on the transitional government to join these voices and to arrest those who are committing crimes. Individuals who are engaging in violence must be held accountable in accordance with the law," said Obama in his remarks.
A Pentagon spokesman said Monday the U.S. would transport African Union peacekeeping troops from neighboring Burundi to the Central African Republic.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to the move after the French defense minister asked for the airlift assistance.
He said the United States believes immediate action is needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.
The instability in the impoverished country began in March, when the rebel Seleka movement seized power, ousting President Francois Bozize.