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Leak may have led to Taliban ambush on French

Latest update : 2008-08-27

French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné reported on Wednesday that the ambush by Taliban insurgents that killed 10 French troops in Afghanistan on August 18 was due to the defection of their Afghan interpreter.

 

 

New information surfaced Wednesday on the death on August 18 of 10 French soldiers who, while on a reconnaissance mission in Eastern Afghanistan, were ambushed by Taliban insurgents. French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, reputed for its investigative reporting and political scoops, suggested that the French patrol may have been betrayed by their Afghan interpreter.

 

“A few hours before the soldiers departed on their mission on August 18, the interpreter who was supposed to accompany the small patrol disappeared,” said an article on Wednesday in Le Canard Enchaîné.

 

According to FRANCE 24 sources, this version of the facts was given to journalists by soldiers who had participated in the mission while they were being treated at the French military hospital in Kabul.

 

According to the newspaper, French officials speaking anonymously admitted that the insurgents knew about the French patrol’s mission “through the missing interpreter, or through Afghan police or soldiers.”

 

Franck Berruyer, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Kabul, said that the presence of heavy artillery was clear evidence of an information leak. “Heavy mortars had been set up at the spot. The Taliban do not walk about with these weapons  – you set them up when you know you’re going to use them.”

 

The French weekly goes on to say that “right at the beginning of the ambush, four of the French soldiers were imprisoned and executed by the insurgents.” No source is, however, attributed to this information.

 

Conflicting statements

 

The article sparked a firm response from French authorities. The French army spokesman in Kabul denied that the Afghan interpreter in question had fled, saying that he had been killed during the clashes and that his body had been returned to his family.

 

Berruyer also reports French authorities, “firmly denying” the imprisonment and execution of the four soldiers. “According to our sources, the four soldiers did not die immediately, but were under shock. The Taliban got to them later, and killed them on the spot, but did not take them as prisoners,” reports our correspondent.

 

Military slip-up?

 

The Canard Enchaîné on Wednesday also published extracts of a report submitted by a high-ranking French army officer on May 4  warning of “violent” and “increasing” clashes in the area where the ambush took place. This suggests, according to the newspaper, that the French army was aware of the dangers involved.

 

 

 

French Defence Minister Hervé Morin appears on ‘Politics’, a FRANCE 24 programme, on Thursday 28 August at 9:10 am (GMT+2)

Date created : 2008-08-27

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