The French Defense Ministry has suspended five members of the country's forces in Central African Republic for violence against two of the citizens they were sent to protect.

Among the five are soldiers higher up in the military hierarchy "who assisted and failed to react to the violence," the ministry said on Saturday.

A statement said that four others who were aware of the acts but failed to report them were handed disciplinary sanctions.

The vague statement said neither when nor where the violent acts took place and didn't elaborate on them. No one was immediately available for comment.

The French mission to its former colony, sent in after sectarian violence erupted in late 2013, has been tarnished by allegations of sexual violence against children that are currently being investigated.