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Taliban Targets NATO Soldiers in Afghanistan

An Afghan woman (L) holds her child as a boy looks up at French soldiers as they patrol in the village of Surobi, Afghanistan, 13 December 2008 (file photo).
Four French soldiers were killed and five others wounded Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, NATO says five of its service members died in two separate bomb blasts in eastern Afghanistan Saturday.

In the first attack in Kapisa province, four French soldiers were killed and five other wounded, when a Taliban suicide bomber disguised as a woman walked up to them and blew himself up. The French government said three of the soldiers are in serious condition.

The Taliban claimed responsibility and said that Afghan forces also suffered casualties.

Another NATO soldier was killed in a separate bomb blast also in the east. A NATO statement did not identify the nationality of the service member killed.

Saturday's attack in Kapisa follows French President Francois Hollande's announcement that Paris will stick to its plans to pull out 2,000 combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012 - well ahead of NATO's 2014 withdrawal target. Hollande said the remaining 1,400 troops would help Afghan forces with training and logistics. France also has about 150 police in the country.

Earlier, a statement from Hollande's office said Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has been dispatched to Afghanistan.

NATO spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson confirmed the incident and offered his apologies.

"We have lost in the incident in the eastern Afghanistan this morning four coalition soldiers who perished in a suicide attack and of course we are deeply sorry about this incident," Jacobson said.

The French government said the troops came from a regiment based in the city of Lyon.

French analyst Francois Gere told French radio Saturday that as a weak party of the NATO contingency, France was an easy target. He said France's early withdrawal from Afghanistan also left its forces vulnerable to further attacks.