KABUL, (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday just two days after Taliban forces killed 10 French soldiers and wounded 21 in an ambush east of the capital, Kabul.
Sarkozy, due to spend just a few hours in the country, was to pay his respects to the dead soldiers, visit the wounded at a French hospital and hold talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, French officials said.
Before leaving Paris, Sarkozy declared that France remained committed to its mission in Afghanistan.
“My determination is intact. France is determined to continue the struggle against terrorism for democracy and freedom. The cause is just. It is an honour for France and its army to defend it,” he said in a statement.
The soldiers, from three elite paratroop and marine regiments, were killed on Monday afternoon in a fierce battle when their NATO-led ISAF force unit was ambushed on a reconnaissance mission in the Sarobi district, some 60 km (40 miles) east of Kabul.
Monday’s ambush took to 24 the number of French soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2002.
Sarkozy decided earlier this year to reinforce the French contingent in Afghanistan, which now numbers 2,600, as part of the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) battling the resurgent Taliban.