Italian troops in Afghanistan have suffered their darkest day with the death of six soldiers in a suicide bombing.
They were killed when a kamikaze rammed a car laden with explosives into a military convoy in central Kabul. Ten Afghan civilians also died in the attack, which the Taliban confirmed it carried out.
It brings the total number of Italian servicemen who have lost their lives in the conflict there to 21 in five years.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called it a painful day for his country.
“We are all convinced that the best for everyone is to get out soon,” he said. “I discussed this with President Obama during the G8, and we are preparing a plan which can be implemented more quickly, as the training of the Afghan forces gets better.”
By saying Italy will withdraw its troops as soon as possible, Berlusconi is echoing the official line of many of his counterparts who are faced with plummeting public support for the war. But all have indicated that the job there needs to be finished first.