Two French soldiers killed in Afghani ambush

28th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

KABUL, Aug 26, 2006 (AFP) - Two French soldiers were killed in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan while separate airstrikes in the south killed 23 militants, including a known Taliban commander, military officials said Saturday.

KABUL, Aug 26, 2006 (AFP) - Two French soldiers were killed in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan while separate airstrikes in the south killed 23 militants, including a known Taliban commander, military officials said Saturday.

Taliban insurgents meanwhile stormed government and police posts in two southern districts, sparking gun battles lasting hours which left six rebels dead and two policemen missing, Afghan officials said.

The latest bloodshed in an increasingly sophisticated insurgency came as the head of US forces in the region, General John Abizaid, was due Saturday for a short visit.

The ambush of the French special forces unit patrolling in the eastern province of Laghman on Friday started with a bomb blast, a US-led coalition hunting down Taliban and other rebels said.

The attackers then opened fire on the soldiers with small arms and machine guns, it said in a statement. Two other French troops were wounded.

The attack was 145 kilometres east of the capital Kabul. The coalition said it was carried out by "extremists", who could include various anti-government forces. The French defence ministry blamed the Taliban.

Further south, coalition forces killed a known Taliban commander and 15 other militants in a precision airstrike Friday on the leadership of the extremist movement, another statement said.

The strike was in the southern province of Uruzgan where hundreds of Dutch troops are deployed.

Uruzgan is one of several provinces in southern and eastern Afghanistan that see the worst of the Taliban insurgency, which the militants launched after they were driven from government in late 2001 for harbouring Al-Qaeda.

In another air strike in the south, British troops with a NATO-led force used artillery fire against a convoy of insurgents that was moving into position for attack in Helmand province on Friday.

About seven insurgents were killed and seven vehicles destroyed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

The strike was in the Musa Qala district, where British and Afghan troops replaced a Danish contingent of 100 soldiers at a base that had suffered daily Taliban attacks.

In more violence in the south reported Saturday, a secretary at a district court was killed when Taliban stormed a government building in Ghazni province Friday, provincial spokesman Abdul Ali Fakori told AFP.

Late on Thursday, rebels captured for several hours three police posts in a remote district of troubled Zabul province.

Six Taliban were killed in the battle to retake the posts, provincial police chief Noor Mohammad Pakteen told AFP.

Two policemen were missing.

ISAF took over command of foreign forces in the southern provinces on July 31, more than doubling the number of soldiers in the region to around 10,000, with the main deployments from Britain, Canada and The Netherlands.

The force also commands the northern and western regions where it has been pushing a programme of stabilisation and reconstruction.

This has left the coalition — which helped to topple the Taliban — to command the east where it is focusing on counterinsurgency operations, which have captured or killed several suspected Al-Qaeda operatives in the past weeks.

ISAF is due to take command of the east in the next two months although the coalition will continue hunting insurgents.

Military officials have agreed that the guerrilla-like insurgency has shown more sophistication this year, which has seen the worst violence since 2001. More than 1,500 people have been killed so far in 2006, in a rough estimate, with more than 1,000 of them rebels.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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