About 500 Belgian paratroopers were flown into Belgium's former colony of Rwanda on Friday in a bid with French forces to quash a rebel uprising, authorities said.

Diplomats from Kigali, Rwanda's capital, said small-arms and artillery fire that broke out overnight in the city outskirts had died down later Friday.French military officials in Paris said its forces engaged in defensive fire early Friday against armed men while tightening ranks around the French Embassy.

The French soldiers "were obliged to riposte, in a purely defensive manner" to "armed elements," the army press service said. It said it was not known whether there were casualties.

The French Defense Ministry denied as "absolutely false" reports that its forces engaged in gunfire around the airport at Kigali.

The scattered shooting in this impoverished country in central East Africa marked the sixth day of unrest since the rebel force made up of Rwandan refugees invaded from neighboring Uganda.

Diplomats from Kigali, a city of about 160,000 residents, said the French and Belgian forces were helping Rwandan forces maintain control of the capital.

The French Defense Ministry said its troops, 150 sent Friday in addition to 150 dispatched earlier, were there only to protect French citizens and the diplomatic mission.

Belgian Defense Minister Guy Coeme said four companies of paratroopers, or about 500 men, arms and vehicles were being flown in.

Coeme said the Belgian troops would control Kigali airport and roads around it. He declined to give more details.