Paris - Paris prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that French troops beat up two people in the Central African Republic while other soldiers stood idly by, a judicial source said on Monday.
The probe was opened last week into "voluntary group violence" as well as sequestration and failing to help persons in danger.
The French defence ministry announced early this month that five soldiers were suspended from France's Sangaris force deployed in the poor former French colony to quell sectarian violence.
The soldiers are suspected of assaulting two locals - while other soldiers looked on - at a military outpost in the working-class PK12 district of the capital Bangui in early 2014.
The Sangaris force is already the subject of three investigations into allegations of sexually abusing children.
UN peacekeepers also face sex abuse allegations.
France launched the Sangaris military operation in 2013 in the chronically restive country after an outbreak of inter-communal violence between Muslim and Christian militias that killed thousands.
The mission is due to end in December after a progressive draw-down.