Sarkozy flies to Afghanistan after ten French soldiers are killed in Taliban raid just 30 MILES from Kabul

Posted on 11:36 AM by Sameer Shah

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will travel to Afghanistan tonight after 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in a Taliban ambush near the capital, Kabul.

The attack and ensuing battle near Surobi district comes as France is sending hundreds more troops to the embattled country.

The death toll could heighten domestic opposition to Mr Sarkozy's plan to boost the French contingent by some 700 troops by the end of this month.

'In its fight against terrorism, France has just been struck severely,' Mr Sarkozy said in a statement.

But he added: 'My determination remains intact. France is resolved to pursue the fight against terrorism, for democracy and liberty.

'The cause is just, it is the honor of France and its armies to defend it.'

The victims included paratroopers from three different regiments. They were killed on Monday during a mission with the Afghan army outside Kabul.

'The fight is necessary to ensure the stability of a country in a region that is deeply unstable,' French defence minister Herve Morin told a news conference in Paris. 'I remain convinced that we will succeed.'

France's top military official, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, said most of the French casualties came in the minutes after the reconnaissance mission was ascending a mountain pass in the early afternoon.

Hours of fighting ensued, lasting into nightfall, he said.

Georgelin denied a statement from an Afghan security official that four French soldiers had been kidnapped by insurgents and then killed.

It was the biggest loss of life for international forces in combat in Afghanistan in more than three years, and the highest French military death toll in an attack since clashes in Bouake, Ivory Coast in 2004.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner Said: 'France will continue to assume its responsibilities in favor of a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan, and in the fight against terrorism.'

The latest deaths will mean France has so far lost 22 service personnel during the campaign to rid Afghanistan of insurgents.

During this time 116 British soldiers have been killed.

The Afghan Defence Ministry said 27 insurgents have been killed or wounded in the clashes.

The Taliban said on its website that 20 U.S. soldiers had been killed in the fighting, which they said erupted after militants ambushed a convoy of Afghan and foreign forces.

France will have some 2,600 troops in Afghanistan by the end of this month, after President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged in April to send 700 more troops to eastern Afghanistan.

Until now, French troops have been mostly based in Kabul.

The deaths of 10 soldiers would be the deadliest attack against international troops since June 2005, when 16 American troops were killed in Kunar province when their helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

In July of this year nine U.S. troops died when insurgents attacked a base on the Kunar-Nuristan border in eastern Afghanistan.

Elsewhere, a wave of Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen attempted to attack the main U.S. base in southeastern Afghanistan on Tuesday but were repelled by ground troops and attack helicopters, Nato-led forces said.

Troops from Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) killed seven of the insurgents, six of them suicide bombers, after they spotted them preparing to attack some 1,000 yards from the base.

Soldiers opened fire with small arms, then 'helicopters arrived on station soon after and engaged these insurgents as they attempted to flee from the scene', ISAF said in a statement.

'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,' it said.

A suicide car bomber rammed the gates of the same base, close to the border with Pakistan, on Monday killing 10 Afghan civilians and wounded 13 more.

After Tuesday's attack, the remaining Taliban insurgents were then driven back to houses in a nearby village and more air strikes were called in, the provincial governor said, but the Afghan Defence Ministry said fighting had subsided by midday.

Two children were killed and two more children and a woman were wounded, the provincial governor said.

ISAF troops were also engaged in a "major battle" with insurgents in Kabul province that began on Monday, ISAF said in a statement without giving further details.

1 Response to "Sarkozy flies to Afghanistan after ten French soldiers are killed in Taliban raid just 30 MILES from Kabul"

ng2000 Says....

Another resource for you: