Taliban kill 10 French troops in Kabul province ambush

A French convoy moves in Kabul province just hours after the attack in Surobi. Photo by Amy Sun / FRI.

Ten French soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded in a major clash with the Taliban in Kabul province, just 35 miles from the capital.

The battled began late on Aug. 18 in a pass just west of the town of Surobi in eastern Kabul province. The joint French and Afghan force was ambushed "during a joint reconnaissance mission with the Afghan national army," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"The initial patrol was reinforced with quick reaction forces, close air support, and mobile medical teams," the International Security Assistance Force reported in a press release. "During the engagement a large number of insurgents were killed." Afghan defense ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 13 rebels, including a Pakistani national, were killed in the fighting, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

An Afghan National polcie truck damaged by a rocket-propelled grenade strike in Surobi is hauled away from the battlefield. Surobi. Photo by Amy Sun / FRI.

The attack occurred in a region often patrolled by French and Afghan forces, said Tim Lynch, the Vice president of Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan (VSSA), a security contracting company that operates in the region.

The region contains little cover and rolling hills ideal for an ambush, Lynch said. "There have been specific threats for the last few weeks against Surobi dam," said Lynch. Attacks have increased in this region over the past month.

As the joint French and Afghan force was battling with extremists east of Surobi, Italian soldiers and Afghan police came under fire while blocking the highway in the area. The Taliban damaged three Afghan National Police truck in a rocket-propelled grenade strike, Lynch said, but there are no reports of casualties at this time.

A Taliban commander known as Ghazni is known to be operating in the eastern Kabul region as well as in northern Langman province, Lynch said. The Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG, is also known to operating in the region. HIG is commanded by Gulbaddin Hekmatyer, an ally of Osama bin laden and the Taliban.

The battles in the Surobi region occurred as threats of Taliban attacks were high in Kabul province. The Taliban sought to disrupt the Afghan Independence Day celebrations. Afghan security forces locked down the province and planned events were canceled or moved to a different location. A suicide bomber killed 10 Afghans in an attack outside a US base in Khost province yesterday.

Today's attacks come as the Taliban and allied terror movement have increased the attacks on the roadways in an around Kabul province. Wardak province, which borders Kabul to the south, has seen a significant uptick in Taliban attacks along Highway 1, the main artery to the southern region of Afghanistan.


READER COMMENTS: "Taliban kill 10 French troops in Kabul province ambush"

Posted by JMS at August 20, 2008 5:52 AM ET:

There's been talk lately about how poor the French military's equipment is. I hope the politicians haven't sent them into Afghanistan without the right gear...

Posted by Rhyno327/lrsd at August 20, 2008 11:44 AM ET:

I heard the same thing. Actually i read it somewhere. The West, especially the Europeans, need to spend more on defense. 2.5% of a nations GDP may not be enough when you are on a long deployment. For France and the UK to remain in a position to influence a situation so far away, it takes money. I do not think the French were under-equipped, they were ambushed. The T-ban may have been tipped off, maybe they used this route too many times? I don't know. Maybe forces close to Kabul need to be pro-active, instead of waiting for the enemy to start the contact. The whole of A-stan is infested it appears. Some NATO members want to avoid combat, and we know who they are, looks like they are gonna be forced to fight. Take the fight to THEM.

Posted by ligoubba at August 22, 2008 2:56 PM ET:

les français n'avaient qu'a rester chez eux!pourquoi ont ils fourrés leurs nez dans un bled qui ne les aime pas?
mais je suis vraiment désolé pour les familles des victimes!!faut brusquer les politiques pour un retrait immédiat!

Posted by Jerzy Kular at August 23, 2008 2:58 AM ET:

There is some talk of several of the soldiers succumbing to "friendly fire" from Nato air strike.