FRANCE’S NEW PRESIDENT Francois Hollande has said that he ‘shares the grief’ of the families of four soldiers who were killed in an operation in Afghanistan this morning.
Announcing the death of four soldiers and the wounding of five others, Hollande said the tragedy affects the whole country. He also saluted the “courage and dedication” of the French troops in Afghanistan.
It is understood that five injured soldiers were evacuated after the suicide bombing in the eastern province of Kapisa. Three are thought to be in a serious condition.
The victims were all members of the 40th Artillery Regiment. An investigation is now underway and the French Minister of Defence is due to travel to the site tomorrow.
The Taliban has taken responsibility for the attack in an emailed statement. Officials said that a suicide bomber disguised as a woman wearing a burqa blew himself up in a market earlier today.
The French troops were at the scene after being asked to respond to a report of a bomb planted under a bridge in the main market area. When they arrived, the bomber walked up to them and detonated his explosives, according to a spokesman for the provincial government.
Four Afghan civilians were also injured in the bombing.
The latest deaths bring to 13 the number of international troops killed in June. So far this year, 189 international service members have been killed in Afghanistan.
Kapisa province has been a particularly deadly posting for French troops. In January, an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops on a base in the province.
Hollande’s recently fought election campaign promised to remove French troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Last month, he said that 2,000 combat troops would be withdrawn, leaving around 1,400 soldiers behind to help with training and logistics.