New Delhi: French president Francois Hollande has regretted the deaths of two Indian nationals at Bangui airport in the restive Central African Republic on Tuesday, an Indian foreign ministry statement said. Six other Indians were injured in the incident.

French troops patrolling the international airport in Bangui killed the two Indians when three vehicles tried to enter the facility, Reuters news agency said in a report citing the French defence ministry.

Hollande conveyed his regret in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is in South Africa to attend the fifth summit of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa, or BRICS, grouping of fast-growing emerging economies.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin identified the two dead Indians as Karna Bahadur from Lucknow and Krishanaya Mogaveera from Mangalore.

“While conveying his condolences, President Hollande assured Prime Minister of his firm determination to investigate the tragic event and assured that the injured were under the care of French medical teams," the foreign ministry said in a statement. “The Prime Minister expressed his deep distress at the loss of innocent lives. He has directed that all efforts be made to ensure the safety of approximately 100 Indian nationals in the Central African Republic, mainly in and around Bangui," it said.

The Central African Republic has been in turmoil since Thursday. On Sunday, some 5,000 Seleka rebel fighters swept into the capital Bangui and ousted President Francois Bozize.

The US, France and neighbour Chad called on the insurgents to respect a January peace deal creating a unity government. The removal of Bozize, who had himself seized power in a coup backed by Chad in 2003, was the latest of many rebellions since the poor, landlocked country won independence from France in 1960.

Seleka, a loose coalition of five rebel groups whose name means “alliance" in the Songo language, was formed last year. It resumed hostilities on Thursday after military leaders of the group detained five members of Bozize’s government and accused the president of violating January’s peace deal by failing to integrate 2,000 of its fighters into the army.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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