Four French troops killed in Afghan attack: officials
At least four French soldiers were killed and several wounded Saturday in a suicide attack against a convoy of NATO-led troops in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.
"Four International Security Assistance Force service members died following an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan today," ISAF said in a statement.
In line with policy, ISAF did not disclose the nationalities of the troops but local officials told AFP the attack in Nijrab district of Kapisa province targeted a convoy of French troops.
"The suicide attack against French troops killed six troops and wounded four," Sultan Mohammad Safi, the head of Nijrab provincial council, told AFP, adding that four French soldiers and three civilians were wounded in the attack.
Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to reporters.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP the attacker was on foot and wearing a burqa.
"This morning a suicide bomber on foot disguised as woman with a burqa on approached the French troops who were on patrol in Nijrab. He detonated his explosives that caused some fatalities," he said
"From the Afghan side we can only confirm three civilians wounded," he said, adding that there were casualties among foreign forces.
France has 3,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly stationed in Kapisa, and provides the fifth largest contingent to NATO's 130,000-strong US-led force.
Kapisa, which controls part of the access to Kabul from Taliban flashpoints on the Pakistani border, has proved a tough fight for the French, troubled by turf wars between the Islamist insurgents and drug dealers.
With the latest deaths, France has lost 87 soldiers in Afghanistan.
New French President Francois Hollande plans to recall French combat troops by the end of 2012, a year earlier than Paris initially planned, and two years before NATO allies.
On a visit to Kabul last month, Hollande said 2,000 combat troops would leave in a coordinated withdrawal this year but vowed not to abandon Afghanistan.
NATO allies have downplayed the effect of their early departure, saying Afghan troops are ready to take over.
The relatively quiet Kabul district of Surobi, where French troops are also based, was handed over to local control in April.
Kapisa has been included in the third of a five-phase transfer, which Afghan officials say could take as little as six months, but which ISAF has timetabled at 12-18 months.
© 2012 AFP