A French officer and an Afghan interpreter were killed, and another French soldier seriously wounded, during a battle with insurgents after their patrol hit a mine on Wednesday, according to the French defence ministry.
AFP - Afghan insurgents killed a French officer and an Afghan interpreter Wednesday in a battle that erupted when their patrol was hit by a home-made landmine, the French military and Afghan officials said.
Another French soldier was seriously wounded in the attack in Logar province, French military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Salle told AFP in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
"Around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Kabul a vehicle was blown up, probably by an IED (improvised explosive device)," he said.
"Afterwards the patrol was shot at by some insurgents. A French soldier has been killed and another was seriously wounded. An Afghan interpreter has also been killed."
The troops were working with a mentor and liaison team that is advising the growing Afghan security forces, Salle said.
Logar provincial police chief, Mostafa Muhsini, said the bomb was detonated from behind a wall in order to strike the patrol.
President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his sorrow at the deaths, condemned the attack and reiterated "France's determination to continue to work for the return of peace to Afghanistan."
There are about 2,800 French soldiers in Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that is helping to fight a Taliban-led insurgency and build Afghanistan's own forces.
About 300 of them are involved in training Afghan army soldiers, Salle said.
The latest death brings to 25 the number of French troops killed in Afghanistan since the contingent first deployed in early 2002.
French troops also came under attack in the capital 10 days ago when a suicide bomber blew up an explosives-filled vehicle near a passing convoy.
One soldier was slightly wounded, the military said.
The Islamist extremist Taliban said they had carried out that attack but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's ambush.
Logar has seen an increase in insurgent activity in recent months.
The French contribution to ISAF is the fourth largest after those from the United States, Britain and Canada.
It suffered the largest single loss of life in battle from among all the 40 ISAF nations when 10 paratroopers were killed after being ambushed by insurgents in August last year.
Wednesday's attack takes to 29 the number of international soldiers to lose their lives this year, most of them in attacks, according to the icasualties.org website that tracks casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There are nearly 70,000 international troops in Afghanistan with NATO's ISAF and a separate US-led coalition.
Date created : 2009-02-11