Paris - A French military operation in the Central African Republic has started with French soldiers patrolling in the capital Bangui, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.
"The operation has started," Le Drian told Radio France Internationale, saying patrols of Bangui had already begun.
France ordered more troops into its former colony on Thursday, hours after a sectarian bloodbath left more than 120 people dead in Bangui.
Shortly after the UN Security Council issued a green light for the military intervention, French President Francois Hollande ordered an additional 600 troops to the African country, doubling the force it already had in and around the capital.
"A company arrived in Libreville last night and today [Friday] a detachment of helicopters will be in the area," he said.
Libreville is the capital of nearby Gabon and a company of the French army is made up of about 150 soldiers.
The goal of the mission, Le Drian said, is to provide "a minimum of security to allow for a humanitarian intervention to be put in place".
The operation will include "securing roads and main routes to allow people to be able to at least go to the hospital," he said.