PARIS (Reuters) - Two French soldiers were killed on Thursday when an Afghan army soldier shot at them deliberately while their unit was engaged in a support mission for Afghanistan’s forces in the Tagab valley, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said.
The shooting was the latest in a string of attacks by “rogue” soldiers and police, or by insurgents who had infiltrated security forces, that have killed dozens of foreign soldiers.
It was also the second such incident in a week, after a December 24 attack in western Farah province in which an Afghan army spokesman said four Americans were wounded. The shooter, who had spent 14 months in the army, was killed on the spot, he added.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said an Afghan soldier had turned his weapon on ISAF forces on December 24, but declined further comment.
Such attacks are especially damaging as the Afghan National Army (ANA) tries to win public trust before Afghan forces take full responsibility for security nationwide. Foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
In November, an Afghan soldier shot and wounded three Australian and two Afghan soldiers in the south, less than two weeks after an Afghan soldier shot and killed three Australian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter.
In September, an Afghan guard employed by the U.S. embassy opened fire inside a CIA office in Kabul, killing an American contractor.
Thursday’s deaths bring the total number of French soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 78 since France joined the international military operation in Afghanistan in 2001.
Sarkozy’s office stressed in a statement France’s commitment to the NATO-led force. Prime Minister Francois Fillon condemned the “cowardly assassination” in a separate statement.
Reporting By Daniel Flynn in PARIS and Emma Graham-Harrison in KABUL; Editing by Robert Birsel