The ten lightly-armed French soldiers who were on patrol with other members of their parachutist regiment were killed on August 18, 2008 after being ambushed by an estimated 170 Taliban fighters, only weeks after taking over from Italian troops in what seemed a comparatively peaceful district 65 kilometres east of Kabul. The Italian forces they had replaced in July had suffered only one combat death in the previous year.
“The Times is alleging that the Italian secret service has been involved in paying off the local Taliban to allow Italian civil reconstruction workers to get into that area and do projects… The problem seems to be that the Italians didn’t inform the French of this”, said Jon Boone, the Guardian correspondent for FRANCE 24.
The ambushed French patrol was trapped overnight by heavy insurgent fire, until airstrikes called in by US Special Forces forced the Taliban to withdraw.
“They had no heavy weapons, no pre-arranged air support, no artillery support and not enough radios (…) The French were carrying just two medium machine guns and 100 rounds of ammunition per man”, said a senior NATO official quoted by The Times.
A mix of Taliban and insurgent Hezb-i-Islami fighters claimed responsibility for the attacks, which shocked France after it emerged that many of the bodies of the dead soldiers had been mutilated after they had died.
Looks like Sarkozy is not the Guilliani of France. The point is not that Italy may or may not have bribed local Afghanis. The point is that soldiers were sent unprepared into a combat zone.