KABUL, Afghanistan – One French and 16 Afghan soldiers were killed and about 40 other troops were wounded in two firefights in southern
Afghanistan, coalition and Afghan officials said Sunday.
In one battle in Helmand province, 13 Afghan soldiers were killed and 15 injured in an eight-hour firefight Saturday, said Gen. Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman. He said at least nine Taliban militants were killed in the battle in Sangin district.
In a second firefight in the same district of Helmand on Saturday, one French and three Afghan soldiers were killed, the U.S.-led coalition said.
Among those injured were a French and an American soldier, said Capt. Drew Gibson, a spokesman for the British military. Twenty-five Afghan soldiers were also injured, Sgt. Chris Miller, a coalition spokesman, said.
There were no immediate reports of militant casualties, Miller said.
In total, three French soldiers were killed on Saturday. The French Defense Ministry earlier announced the deaths of two special forces troops killed in neighboring Kandahar province. France has had 200 special forces officers in southeast Afghanistan since 2003 as part of the U.S.-led coalition.
The Afghan and coalition soldiers attacked in the Sangin district of Helmand were part of Task Force Phoenix, which is helping to train Afghan army soldiers, Miller said.
Taliban-linked militants have stepped up attacks against coalition forces in recent months, particularly in Afghanistan’s southern and eastern regions that border Pakistan.