Fighting in Afghanistan
10 French Soldiers Killed in Taliban Ambush
Taliban fighters have launched a bloody offensive against international forces in Afghanistan this week. A total of 10 French soldiers have been killed in heavy fighting east of the capital Kabul, and NATO troops foiled a suicide attack on a base in the southeast.
Taliban fighters have killed 10 French NATO soldiers and wounded almost 30 in an ambush east of the Afghan capital of Kabul. French radio reported that the soldiers were paratroopers. At least 27 Taliban have also died in the fighting, said a spokesman for the Afghan defense ministry.
Media reports said it was the biggest loss suffered by French troops since their deployment to Afghanistan in 2002, and the deadliest incident for international soldiers in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, excluding helicopter and plane crashes.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would travel to Afghanistan later on Tuesday. Commentators said the heavy loss was a blow to his strategy of forging closer ties with NATO and dispatching more French combat soldiers to Afghanistan earlier this year.
The press department of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the fighting had started in the district of Sarobi on Monday, about 30 miles east of Kabul. "We had a fight through the night and it is ongoing," an ISAF officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
An ISAF statement said soldiers were involved in a "significant incident with insurgents" but added that it could not yet release details.
Most of the 3,000 French troops in Afghanistan are stationed in Kabul province, which includes Sarobi, and Kapisa, northeast of the capital. NATO has been hit by a spate of attacks this week, heightening fears that the Taliban are gradually encroaching on the capital.
Separately, at least six suicide bombers were killed on Monday in a foiled attack on a NATO military base in south-eastern Afghanistan, NATO said. The militants failed to storm Camp Salerno in Khost province, where many US troops are based, NATO and Afghan officials said. ISAF said a number of suicide bombers had tried to storm the base.
"ISAF forces on the base had before identified a group of insurgents posturing to attack the base and engaged them with small arms fire," a statement said. "Helicopters arrived on station soon after and engaged these insurgents as they attempted to flee from the scene."
"Three of the insurgents killed themselves by detonating their suicide vests. ISAF forces killed three other suicide bombers before they could detonate their vests. There were no ISAF casualties in the attack," the statement said.