(AFP) – 6 hours ago
PARIS — A French soldier and around 10 Taliban fighters were killed in an early morning ambush and subsequent firefight during a joint operation on Tuesday with the Afghan army in Kapisa province, officials said.
A statement from Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's office said a French soldier died and another was wounded "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.
The French military in Paris said that around 130 French soldiers came under small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade attack at around 6:00 am while securing an area near a bridge outside Tagab village.
Chief-of-staff spokesman Bertrand Bonneau said that around 10 Taliban were killed during the firefight that followed the ambush and that an Afghan soldier was also wounded.
Two wounded French soldiers were airlifted to Kabul but one died en route, the military 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.