* You can’t make this s*#t up:
Ten French soldiers killed by Taliban fighters last month in Afghanistan were woefully ill-equipped, according to a report citing a classified Nato document.
There are nearly 7,000 French andÂ German troops in Afghanistan [EPA]
The “secret” file quoted by a Canadian newspaper said that the French troops ambushed on Aug 18 in a valley east of Kabul did not have enough bullets, radios and other equipment to sustain them through two days of fighting.
The report is likely to fan tensions ahead of a French parliamentary debate over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to send extra troops to Afghanistan. It promises to be heated, but Mr Sarkozy’s decision will be approved as his ruling centre-right UMP party holds a strong majority.
According to the report cited by the Globe and Mail newspaper, the troops were forced to abandon a counter attack when the weapons on their vehicles ran out of ammunition only 90 minutes into the battle. One French platoon had just one radio, which was quickly knocked out, leaving them powerless to call for reinforcements.
The dead soldiers from that platoon “showed signs of being killed at close range”, the report said.
By contrast, it said that the insurgents were well prepared and equipped, with expert snipers who appeared to have used incendiary bullets designed to punch holes in armour.
Nato and the Paris government denied the existence of such a report.
“Neither the secretary general (Jaap de Hoop Scheffer) nor indeed Nato headquarters has any knowledge of such a report’s existence. After some research we are still unable to find any evidence of such a report,” said a Nato spokesman.
“Nato has 100 percent, full confidence in the capabilities, training and equipment of French forces,” he added.
“There was no Nato report,” said a French army spokesman, saying such information was based on “rumours” possibly fed by “partial” accounts from soldiers questioned after the attack. He denied that the troops ran out of ammunition quickly and said that radio reception was only lost for a few minutes.