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Hollande confirms early withdrawal after Taliban kill French troops

Hollande confirms early withdrawal after Taliban kill French troops
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Four French soldiers and an Afghan interpreter have been killed by a suicide bomber in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban have said they were behind the attack, which comes as they step up a spring offensive.

Another five soldiers were injured, three seriously.

Afghan officials say the bomber approached their patrol dressed in a burka.

The French president François Hollande said a national tribute would be paid to the troops, while confirming the early withdrawal of French forces from the country.

“This operation will begin in July, it will be put into place and completed by the end of 2012. Until then, everything should be done to make sure that our troops fulfil their obligations, but with the highest level of security and the utmost vigilance for the lives of our soldiers,” he said.

It is the second attack this year on French troops in the mountainous Kapisa province to bring major loss of life. In January another four soldiers were killed.

After his election last month President Hollande visited the volatile province which is mainly patrolled by a French force under NATO command.

He said the job of fighting terrorism was nearly done and France would focus on cooperating on helping civilians.

The latest attack brings to 87 the total number of French soldiers killed in the Afghan conflict, the fourth highest among coalition forces.

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