French troops attacked in Kabul

2nd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

The bomb exploded near a convoy of French soldiers, wounding a soldier and two civilians.

KABUL – A suicide car bomber attacked a convoy of French troops in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, wounding three people, including one of the soldiers, the French military and the Afghan government said.

The extremist Islamic Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast on the busy southwestern outskirts of the city.

The bomb exploded near a convoy of French soldiers who are helping to train the fledgling Afghan National Army, French military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Salle told AFP.

"One military vehicle has been damaged and one French soldier has been slightly wounded. He does not need hospital treatment," he said.

The Afghan interior ministry said two civilians were also wounded. Witnesses said they were an adult male and a child.

The car used to carry out the attack was destroyed, with only the engine block remaining, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Parts of the vehicle and the attacker's body were flung across the road, which leads into the province of Wardak and then Logar - both used in the past as staging grounds for attacks on Kabul.

There are about 2,800 French soldiers in Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that is helping to fight a Taliban-led insurgency and build up Afghanistan's own forces.

About 300 of them are involved in training Afghan army soldiers, Salle said.

Many of the others are based in the province of Kapisa, northeast of Kabul.

Suicide attacks have become a regular occurrence in Afghanistan and are most often claimed by the Taliban, which is fighting to take back power after being removed from government in a US-led invasion in 2001.

The last attack in Kabul was two weeks ago on a road between the German embassy and a US military base. Four Afghans and a US soldier were killed in the attack, which was also claimed by the Taliban.

Afghan and international security forces afterwards arrested a man in Kabul suspected of involvement and two others in Logar, where a fourth suspect was shot dead, ISAF said.

About 3,000 US troops have deployed in recent weeks in Wardak and Logar. Up to 30,000 more US troops are expected in the coming months in southern Afghanistan, which sees some of the worst of the insurgency.

The French contribution to ISAF is the fourth largest after those of the United States, Britain and Canada.

It suffered the largest loss of life in battle from among all the 40 ISAF nations when 10 paratroopers were killed after being ambushed by insurgents in August last year.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner last week ruled out increasing the number of French troops deployed in Afghanistan even as NATO is pushing for more.

[AFP / Expatica]

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