French soldier killed in Afghan battle: Sarkozy office

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A French soldier was killed Thursday in a skirmish in Afghanistan, just a day after five others died in a suicide attack in the war-torn country, the French presidency said.

The soldier died while taking part in an operation alongside Afghan police in the Alasay valley in Kapisa province, east of Kabul, it said in a statement.

The announcement came as President Nicolas Sarkozy held an emergency security meeting during France's Bastille Day national holiday to discuss how to keep French combat troops safe before they quit Afghanistan by 2014.

The five soldiers killed Wednesday -- along with an Afghan civilian -- died when a suicide bomber targeted them as they protected a local tribal council in the Tagab valley of Kapisa province.

Thursday's death brought to 70 the number of French soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since 2001, when they deployed to support the US-led campaign to overthrow the Taliban regime and hunt Al-Qaeda militants.

Wednesday's attack was the worst loss for French forces since August 2008, when 10 soldiers were killed and 21 injured after Taliban guerrillas ambushed a patrol in the Sarobi district east of Kabul.

© 2011 AFP

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