Taliban Target French Troops; Hollande Says Afghan Pullout to Proceed

Posted June 9th, 2012 at 12:40 pm (UTC-5)
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France says it will stick to its plans to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of the year, despite a deadly bombing that killed four of its soldiers.

French President Francois Hollande offered apologies to the families of the four dead men Saturday and said the planned withdrawal would go ahead as scheduled.

He said there were no plans to alter the timetable, saying “this operation will start in July and be finished by the end of 2012.”

Earlier, a statement from Mr. Hollande's office said Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has been dispatched to Afghanistan.

NATO spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson also confirmed the incident and offered its apologies.

“We have lost in the incident in the eastern Afghanistan this morning four coalition soldiers who perished in a suicide attack and of course we are deeply sorry about this incident.”

The Taliban Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack. A suicide bomber disguised as a woman wearing a burqa blew himself up in a market in eastern Kapisa province, where the majority of soldiers are French.

The Taliban claim said Afghan forces also suffered casualties.

Mr. Hollande announced last month that France will withdraw most of its troops in Afghanistan by the end of the year, two years ahead of the timetable agreed to by NATO.

The Kapisa bombing was the second deadly attack on NATO troops Saturday. Earlier, NATO reported that one of its service members was killed in a bomb blast.