Two French soldiers killed in Afghanistan
KABUL, Aug 26, 2006 (AFP) - Two French special forces soldiers were killed in an attack in eastern Afghanistan where they were working with a US-led coalition hunting down Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces, officials said Saturday.
Taliban fighters meanwhile stormed district government and police posts in the south of the country, sparking hours-long gun battles that left two rebels dead and two policemen missing, Afghan officials said.
A French unit on patrol in the province of Laghman was hit by a homemade bomb on Friday and then ambushed by extremists who attacked with small arms and machine guns, the US-led coalition in Kabul said.
The coalition blamed the attack on "extremists", who could include various anti-government forces. The defence ministry in Paris said the attackers were from the extremist Taliban movement removed from government in late 2001.
The attack was near the Laghman capital Mihtarlam, 145 kilometres (90 miles) east of Kabul.
Two French soldiers were also wounded and were in a stable condition at a hospital in the main US military base at Bagram, near Kabul, the coalition said.
French forces are involved in US-led anti-Taliban operations and some form part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that is also working to establish security to facilitate reconstruction.
Foreign and Afghan troops are battling an insurgency which has grown each year since the Islamist Taliban government was driven from power in late 2001 for harbouring the Al-Qaeda terror network.
Seven French soldiers have been killed in action since September 2005, according to figures released Friday by French army general staff.
Six of the French troops were from special forces fighting the Taliban alongside US troops in the Spin Boldak region near the border with Pakistan. The other was with the ISAF.