[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
French soldiers killed in Afghan blast
Francois Hollande says troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to begin in July, as four killed by suicide bomber in Kapisa.
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2012 15:00
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 as President Francois Hollande announed France's plans to begin withdrawing its troop from the country next month.

NATO confirmed on Saturday that four of its troops were killed in a suicide attack earlier in the day. The soldiers were all French, officials said.

In an email, Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in the Nijrab district of Kapisa province.

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.

Hollande said on Saturday that France would pay a "national homage" to the men. He added that the wounded will be repatriated rapidly.

"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," his office said in a statement.

Our complete Afghanistan coverage

Hollande announced that France would begin its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July and complete it by the end of the year.

The withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan is one of Hollande's electoral promises.

It "will begin in the month of July, will be carried out and end at the end of year 2012," the French president said.

"In the meantime, everything must be done for our troops to meet their obligations but with the highest level of security and with the greatest vigilance for the lives of the soldiers.

"I am making this engagement here and I will be the guarantor for this operation," he said.

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.

Hollande has continued with his predecessor’s calls for an early French withdrawal from Afghanistan. In a surprise visit to Afghanistan last month, he said France would begin the withdrawal of its combat troops this year, two years ahead of the timetable agreed by NATO.

397

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.