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5 French troops, Afghan civilian slain in attack

By the CNN Wire Staff
French President Nicolas Sarkozy holds a bullet proof vest as he visits French troops at their military base in Tora in the Surobi region on July 12, 2011.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy holds a bullet proof vest as he visits French troops at their military base in Tora in the Surobi region on July 12, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 69 French service members have died in Afghanistan
  • NEW: Five French soldiers, 1 Afghan civilian are killed
  • This comes a day after Sarkozy's visit
  • Other troops and civilians were injured
  • The soldiers were protecting a shura when the attack occurred

Paris (CNN) -- Five French troops and an Afghan civilian were killed on Wednesday in an insurgent attack in an eastern province of Afghanistan, the French president's office said.

The incident occurred in Afghanistan's Kapisa province, where the French have a strong troop presence, and it comes a day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the country to meet with French troops.

The office said the soldiers were protecting a shura, a gathering of high-profile figures, in Joibar village when "a terrorist detonated his bomb within proximity of the French soldiers." The village is in Kapisa's Tagab valley.

Along with those killed, four French soldiers and three Afghan civilians were injured.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said "the Taliban claim responsibility for the suicide attack."

Capt. Justin Brockhoff -- a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force --also reported five international troop deaths, but the spokesman did not disclose the nationalities of those killed per ISAF policy.

He said ISAF received a report that the strike could have been a suicide attack and a "small and heavy weapons attack as well."

France has about 3,900 troops in Afghanistan, according to the NATO mission there, and the Defense Ministry says it has lost 69 service members in the long war.

France has said it will begin to reduce troop numbers, following a "timetable comparable to the withdrawal of the American troops," according to a statement from the president's office last month.

In addition, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet told France Info radio last month that all French soldiers could be out of Afghanistan by 2013.

According to the U.S. timetable, some 33,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn by September 2012. That will leave just under 70,000 Americans in Afghanistan.

Sarkozy, who is back in France after his Afghanistan trip, passed along his condolences and said France is determine to continue working with ISAF "to restore peace and stability" in Afghanistan.

CNN's Mishan Afsari, Matiullah Mati and Dheepthi Namasivayam contributed to this report

 
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