An official says French troops are deploying in western and northern regions of the Central African Republic, a day after France stepped up its presence in its former colony to try to stem violence there.

Col. Gilles Jaron, a French defense ministry spokesman, said the French force reached its full deployment of 1,200 on Saturday, with some entering the west of the country from neighboring Cameroon.

Jaron said other French troops are leaving Bangui, the capital, on a reconnaissance mission to the north. He declined to provide specifics on their destination or how many were involved.

France had pledged to increase its presence well before Christian militias attacked Bangui at dawn Thursday. Clashes between Christian militias and mostly Muslim ex-rebels have left at least 281 people dead.