Sarkozy in Afghanistan after deadly attack on French soldiers

Other News Materials 20 August 2008 12:41 (UTC +04:00)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to visit his country's troops and meet with his Afghan counterpart, a day after 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded in a Taliban attack, dpa reported.

Sarkozy visited French troops in Camp Warehouse on the eastern outskirts of Kabul Wednesday morning and paid his respects to the dead soldiers, a diplomatic source who declined to be named said.

The French president also met with some wounded soldiers in a military hospital inside the camp, which houses multinational troops serving in a 40-nation, NATO-led mission in the country.

Sarkozy planned to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai to assure him of his country's continued military support, an Afghan presidential spokesman said.

"My decision remains firm. France is committed to continue the fight against terrorism, for democracy and freedom. The issue is just," Sarkozy said in a statement before leaving Paris.

The soldiers, from elite paratroops and marine regiments, were killed when a group of 100 Taliban insurgents attacked their convoy in Uzbeen area of Sarobi district, 50 kilometres from Kabul city on Monday and Tuesday.

It was the worst attack against the French troops since their deployment to Afghanistan following the ouster of the Taliban regime by a US-led invasion in late 2001.

It was also the deadliest incident for the NATO forces in the country, which total about 53,000 troops. Nine US soldiers were killed in eastern Kunar province in July, when Taliban fighters attacked their base.

More than 170 international troops have been killed so far this year.

France has around 3,000 troops, which are stationed in Kabul and the adjacent province of Kapisa.

Sarkozy is being accompanied by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Defence Minister Herve Morin, official sources said.