French troops had deployed in the Central African Republic (CAR) to prevent a civilian massacre, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday, Xinhua reported.
"... the French forces already deployed at the airport of Bangui to protect it and our nationals have increased patrols in Bangui," Le Drian told French radio RFI, announcing the start of operations.
The France-led operation in CAR aimed to guarantee "a minimum security, allowing a humanitarian intervention, which is not the case today," the minister said.
Following a unanimous UN Security Council vote to militarily intervene in the strife-torn country, about 1,200 French troops would help with the African Union's International Support Mission in the CAR to "ensure the territory's security and prepare for political transition," Le Drian said.
The CAR, with 4.6 million people, has been haunted by instability and poverty since its independence from France in 1960. It is listed by the United Nations as one of the poorest countries in the world despite its rich resources.
After rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in March, the country plunged into a new wave of violence and sectarian clashes that have forced thousands of people to flee to neighboring countries.