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Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Sunday, 27 September 2009 10:56 UK

Afghan storm kills French troops

French soldier on patrol in Afghanistan. File photo
France has almost 3,000 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan

Three French soldiers have been killed in a violent storm in north-eastern Afghanistan, the French military says.

The soldiers, serving with a parachute regiment, "died accidentally" at night in Kapisa province, officials said.

Army spokesman Christophe Prazuck said one of the soldiers was hit by lightning and the other two were swept away by a fast flowing river.

Earlier, Afghan Energy Minister Ismail Khan survived a roadside bomb attack in the western city of Herat.

At least four people were killed.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the blast in a telephone call to news agencies.

Sarkozy's support

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in a statement that the three soldiers "died accidentally during an operation taking place by night" in the Afghanya Valley.

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"These three soldiers... have paid with their life for France's commitment to peace and the security of the Afghan people," the statement said.

It added that Mr Sarkozy continued to support the French mission.

France is among the top five contributors to Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) operations and has almost 3,000 troops deployed mainly in eastern Afghanistan.



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