Four French NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan
KABUL FOUR French NATO soldiers were killed in an insurgent suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, the French and Afghan governments confirmed.
Five injured soldiers were also taken to a military hospital in Kabul, the Defence Ministry in Paris said.
Three of them were in critical condition. A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force had announced the deaths earlier, without disclosing their nationality.
The insurgent attack occurred during a troop deployment early on Saturday in the eastern province of Kapisa, where the French forces are supporting the Afghan army.
Qais Qaderi, the spokesman for Kapisa’s governor, said the attacker was dressed as a woman.
“They were on foot patrol to find out the location of a roadside bomb hidden under a bridge in Kharaj Dara village, when a suicide bomber in a burqa detonated his explosive-packed vest among the soldiers,” Qadari said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying its fighters had killed 12 French soldiers.
“The mujahedin attacked French infantry in Nejrab district of Kapisa province, in which 12 French soldiers and four Afghan police were killed,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban.
In France meanwhile, President Francois Hollande gave his condolences to the families of the victims, who were the first French soldiers to die on duty since he took office last month.
Hollande, who visited Afghanistan on May 25, has pledged to withdraw French combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of the year, ahead of NATO’s agreed 2014 deadline.
France has 3,400 troops stationed in Afghanistan, of whom around 2,000 are to leave by the end of 2012.