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Afghan soldier opens fire and kills two French troops

An Afghan army soldier shot and killed two French NATO troops Thursday, the French government said in what was the latest attack by members of Afghan security forces against their coalition partners.

A statement from the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a soldier in the Afghan National Army opened fire on the two, who were serving with the 2nd regiment of the Foreign Legion.

This year has been the deadliest for French forces in Afghanistan since the international operation began there in 2001. Thursday's deaths bring to 26 the number of French troops killed this year and 78 over the entire 10-year conflict.

They also bring the December toll for NATO troops killed in Afghanistan to 25, while the year's toll so far is 541. The yearly total is considerably lower than for 2010, when more than 700 troops died.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in an email, identifying the attacker as Mohammed Ibrahim. He said the attack was carried out at a base in Shamshad in eastern Kapisa province, about 40 miles northeast of Kabul.

Mujahid added that the attacker was then gunned down by French troops.

In Paris, French military spokesman Col. Thierry Burkhard said the soldier was stationed in the area where French forces operate in the east, and that it was the first ever such incident in the French zone. Both NATO and Afghan forces were investigating.

Tuesday, three NATO troops were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan. The alliance provided no further details, but the Taliban claimed the victims were U.S. soldiers who were riding in a military convoy when a roadside bomb exploded next to their vehicle.

Also Thursday, a roadside bomb killed 10 Afghan police officers and wounded another in a restive district of southwestern Helmand province, which NATO had recently turned over, to Afghan security control. In a call to the Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the Helmand attack.

The explosion destroyed a police pickup truck as it drove through Zarghun Kalay village in Helmand's Nad Ali district, according to a spokesman for the provincial governor, Daud Ahmadi, and police chief Haji Abdul Marjan.

Both officials said the officers had left a training center and were headed home when their vehicle was blow up by insurgents. Marjan said they drove along the same road every day, while Ahmadi said eight of those killed were new recruits.

Nad Ali, which had been run by British troops, was one of the districts in Helmand that last month was switched from NATO to Afghan security control.

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