In this photograph taken on October 6, 2013, at the Bonga Bonga stadium in Bangui, Central African Republic, French photojournalist Camille Lepage smiles with a local dancer. Lepage, 26, was killed while covering the deteriorating situation in the CAR on May 12, 2014. File picture: Sylvain Cherkaoui

Paris -

The body of French photojournalist Camille Lepage, who died in a shoot-out in the Central African Republic, was flown back to France early on Friday.

The 26-year-old was slain during a firefight between rival militia in the restive country, where she had been covering sectarian bloodletting and its impact on civilians.

An airport source said Lepage's body had been taken to Paris's main morgue for autopsy.

Her death provoked a wave of emotion in France and in its former colony.

Lepage's body was recovered by French peacekeeping troops on Tuesday.

She had been on an assignment with members of the "anti-balaka" Christian militia earlier in the week when they were ambushed by fighters linked to rival militia groups and at least 10 fighters died in the ensuing battle.

French authorities on Wednesday opened a judicial investigation into her death. - Sapa-AFP