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French soldier killed, another wounded in Afghanistan

A French soldier was killed and another was wounded during a joint operation with the Afghan army in Kapisa province, the French government confirmed on Tuesday. The number of French soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 now stands at 88.

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AFP - A French soldier was killed and another wounded Tuesday in a firefight during a joint operation with the Afghan army in Kapisa province, the French presidency and prime minister's office said.

A statement from Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's office said the casualties were sustained "during a clash with insurgents" and that the wounded soldier was expected to survive.

The statement said the soldiers were from the elite 13th Chasseurs Alpin Battalion. The dead soldier was "part of an assistance team advising Afghan units," a statement from President Francois Hollande's office said.

A total of 88 French soldiers have died in Afghanistan since they first deployed there in 2001.

French forces are now deployed only in Kabul and in Kapisa, an extremely unstable eastern province where French troops have suffered numerous deadly attacks from the Taliban.

The French military in July handed control of Kapisa to local forces, but French soldiers continue to help train them as preparations for the pullout go ahead.

France is the fifth largest contributor to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is due to pull out the vast majority of its 130,000 forces by the end of 2014.

Before his election in May, Hollande vowed to speed up France's pullout so it would be completed by the end of 2012 -- a year earlier than Paris initially planned and two years before the NATO deadline.

Under Paris's timetable, of the 3,000 French soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan, 1,400 will remain after the end of 2012 to oversee the return of equipment and train local forces.

 

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