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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, March 6) - A French naval officer from Tahiti serving with special forces was killed Saturday during an armed skirmish with Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, the French Defense Ministry reported.

The ministry provided no further details, including the soldier's identity.

This was the second French soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, where some 200 French soldiers have been deployed since 2003 to assist U.S. military operations against the Taliban in southeastern Afghanistan.

The naval officer killed Saturday was born in Tahiti's north coast Commune of Arue. The son and grandson of French soldiers, the victim is survived by his French wife and their two children, ages two and one.

Burial services are scheduled to be held in Lorient, Brittany, the city where the soldier's wife was born, RFO Radio Polynésie reported Sunday.

French Defense Minister Alliot-Marie, who was accompanying French President Jacques Chirac during his official visit to Saudi Arabia, issued a statement expressing her "deep emotion" and reaffirmed her "support of French forces currently on operations, particularly those engaged in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan".

March 7, 2006

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf

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