Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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French soldiers killed in Afghanistan attack

Majority of France's 3,500 troops currently in Afghanistan are stationed in the eastern province of Kapisa [Reuters]A suicide blast in eastern Afghanistan has killed at least four French soldiers.

In an email, Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the Saturday morning attack in the Nijrab district of Kapisa province, where the majority of foreign forces are French.

Five other people were injured in the attack when a man wearing a burqa detonated his explosives after approaching the French forces on foot, a local official said.

The office of Francois Hollande, the French president, issued a statement confirming the four dead soldiers as French.

"This morning during an operation in Afghanistan in Kapisa province, four of our French soldiers were killed. Five wounded were evacuated including three in a serious condition," the office said in a statement.

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.

French troops had previously been targeted in a gun attack earlier this year when an Afghan army soldier killed four un-armed French soldiers and left another sixteen injured.

The January attack led to a brief suspension of French training operations in the Central Asian nation.

Francois Hollande has continued with his predecessor’s calls for an early French withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In a surprise visit to Afghanistan last month, Hollande said France would begin the withdrawal of its combat troops later this year, two years ahead of the timetable agreed by NATO.

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