French President Francois Hollande has vowed tough punishment for any soldier found guilty of sexually assaulting children in the Central African Republic.
Mr Hollande said any sanctions should correspond with the gravity of the crime and "set an example".
French prosecutors and military authorities are investigating accusations of sexual abuse of children in 2013/14 by French soldiers sent to protect civilians amid sectarian violence in the Central African Republic. The investigation has been under way since last year but was only made public yesterday.
French military officials distanced themselves from the accusations today, saying they had no knowledge of any sexual abuse.
France sent troops to the former colony in December 2013 and the UN set up a 12,000-strong peacekeeping force in September last year.