France threatens Afghan exit after deadly attack

 

Paris

France is considering an early exit from Afghanistan after four unarmed French soldiers were yesterday killed by an Afghan army trainee.

President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the suspension of all training activities by French forces in Afghanistan after the second attack of its kind in a month. French ministers said that their 3,600 troops would be withdrawn unless Kabul provided “credible assurances” that the vetting of Afghan recruits would be improved.

An Afghan army trainee opened fire with an automatic weapon on French soldiers during a sports exercise yesterday at a base high in the mountains at Gwan in eastern Afghanistan. Four soldiers were killed and 15 wounded, including eight seriously.

This was the latest of a series of similar attacks on Nato troops by Afghan trainees, including the killing of two members of the French Foreign Legion in September.

Yesterday’s attack was part of one the blackest days for western troops in Afghanistan for many months. Six US marines also died when their helicopter crashed in Helmand province. US sources said it was not immediately clear whether the helicopter had been brought down by the Taliban rebels.

French ministers repeatedly insisted yesterday that the killing of their soldiers should be considered as “murders”, not combat deaths. The foreign minister Alain Juppé spoke of a “premeditated murder in a camp shared by the Afghan and French armies”.

President Sarkozy is already under pressure from opponents in this spring’s presidential election who have called for the withdrawal of French troops before a 2014 Nato deadline. In a speech a few minutes after the new killings were announced Mr Sarkozy said that the “early return” of French soldiers would be considered if “security conditions are not clearly established”. “From now on, all the operations of training and combat help by the French army are suspended,” he added.

The defence minister Gérard Longuet flew to Kabul yesterday. Mr Juppé said he would seek guarantees on the recruitment procedures for Afghan soldiers. If the assurances were not sufficient, France would “accelerate” the withdrawal of its troops.

President Sarkozy said he would discuss France’s continuing presence in Afghanistan when the country’s president, Hamid Karzai, visits Paris next Friday. “We are friends and allies of the Afghan people but I cannot accept Afghan soldiers shooting French soldiers,” he said. “We will be faced with a difficult decision in the next few weeks.”

France provides the fourth largest contingent of the 30,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan. President Sarkozy has announced that, like the 90,000 US troops, they will return home by the end of 2013.

The front-runner for the April-May French presidential polls, the Socialist candidate François Hollande yesterday repeated his call for all French troops to be withdrawn by the end of 2012.

Last year was the worst in the 10 year history of French deployment in Afghanistan. The 26 soldiers killed brought the total number of French deaths to 83.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teaching Assistant required in ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam