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France confirms four soldiers dead in Afghanistan

June 09, 2012


US soldiers with the NATO-led Isaf wrap the body of a comrade.—AP Photo
US soldiers with the Nato-led Isaf wrap the body of a comrade.—AP Photo

PARIS: The French president's office on Saturday confirmed that four French soldiers were killed and five were wounded in an attack claimed by the Taliban in Afghanistan's eastern Kapisa province.

“This morning during an operation in Afghanistan in Kapisa province, four of our French soldiers were killed. Five wounded were evacuated including three in a serious condition,” the office said in a statement.

“It is with the greatest emotion that I share the grief of the families,” President Francois Hollande said in the statement. “Today all of France is affected by this tragedy.”

The soldiers were killed in a suicide attack against a convoy of Nato-led troops in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to reporters.

France provides the fifth largest contingent to Nato's 130,000-strong US-led force in Afghanistan, with 3,500 soldiers stationed mostly in Kapisa and the capital Kabul.

Saturday's attack brings to 87 the number of French soldiers killed in Afghanistan since the start of the deployment in late 2001.

“I wish to salute the courage and devotion of our French troops in Afghanistan,” Hollande said, adding that he had asked Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to head to the country on Sunday.

Hollande was to make a “solemn statement” on the attack at 1300 GMT, the presidential palace said.

The new French president will make the statement from the south-central city of Tulle, where he is to attend a ceremony commemorating a Nazi massacre of civilians in June 1944, it said.

The defence ministry said the attack took place at 0440 GMT while the troops were on patrol in the Kapisa area and that the wounded were taken to a military hospital in Kabul.

“The priority is to inform the families,” the ministry said in a statement.

The president's office said an investigation had been opened into the attack.

France decided last month to speed up the withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan, announcing a pullout of 2,000 troops by the end of the year.