World

French president leads homage to 2 soldiers killed in Central African Republic

  • French troops carry the coffins of the two soldiers killed in Bangui, Central African Republic, during a military ceremony at the Invalides in Paris, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. France wants its European partners to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the chaotic Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

    French troops carry the coffins of the two soldiers killed in Bangui, Central African Republic, during a military ceremony at the Invalides in Paris, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. France wants its European partners to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the chaotic Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  (The Associated Press)

  • French President Francois Hollande watches as the coffins of the two killed soldiers killed last week in Bangui, Central African Republic, are carried during a military ceremony at the Invalides in Paris, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. France wants its European partners to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the chaotic Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Michel)Euler)

    French President Francois Hollande watches as the coffins of the two killed soldiers killed last week in Bangui, Central African Republic, are carried during a military ceremony at the Invalides in Paris, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. France wants its European partners to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the chaotic Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Michel)Euler)  (The Associated Press)

  • French President Francois Hollande stands next to the coffins of the two soldiers killed last week in Bangui, Central African Republic, during a military ceremony at the Invalides in Paris, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. France wants its European partners to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the chaotic Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

    French President Francois Hollande stands next to the coffins of the two soldiers killed last week in Bangui, Central African Republic, during a military ceremony at the Invalides in Paris, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. France wants its European partners to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the chaotic Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  (The Associated Press)

French President Francois Hollande led a ceremony in homage to two French soldiers killed last week in the Central African Republic in the first deadly skirmish of the French army's intervention in its former colony.

Hollande pledged Monday that France would "never forget" the sacrifice of corporals Nicolas Vokaer, 23, and Antoine Le Quinio, 22.

The two are the first French military casualties of Operation Sangaris, the French-led military intervention launched Dec. 5 aimed at disarming ex-rebels and militias that are pushing the Central African Republic toward anarchy.

The two French troops were part of a team inspecting a neighborhood near the capital's airport Dec. 9 when gunmen opened fire on their patrol. The two Frenchmen were wounded and taken to the hospital where they died.