Afghan soldier gets death sentence for killing French troops

Story highlights

  • The killing of 4 service members in eastern Kapisa province sparked outrage
  • Officials: The French troops were unarmed because they were conducting normal training
  • France suspended training operations after the killings

An Afghan military court sentenced a local soldier to death for killing four French service members in January, authorities said Tuesday.

The Afghan soldier killed the troops during a training session at a base in Kapisa province, prompting Nicolas Sarkozy, who was president of France at the time, to suspend training operations and combat help.

The killing of the French troops highlighted a disturbing issue -- the so-called "green on blue" attacks by local security forces against NATO troops.

The French troops were unarmed because they were in their base conducting normal training with their Afghan partners, officials said.

French troops deployed under the NATO-led command had operated in Kapisa province for years. The French military said it handed over control of the province to local forces this month.

French President Francois Hollande, who recently won the election, campaigned for an accelerated withdrawal of combat forces and called for their removal from the field by the end of the year.

After he took office in May, he visited French troops in the region and paid tribute to soldiers killed in the line of duty.

    He also highlighted his plan to expedite France's withdrawal of its roughly 3,935 troops in Afghanistan, according to NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

    "The decision that I made to accelerate the withdrawal of French combat forces from Afghanistan will begin in July. It will be implemented and completed by the end of 2012," Hollande said at the time. "Until then, everything must be done for our troops to meet our obligations with the highest level of security and the utmost vigilance. I take this commitment and I will be the guarantor of the transaction."

    The Afghan soldier was sentenced to death by hanging, but can appeal the ruling, said Gen Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan defense ministry.