Military officials told The Times newspaper that the Italians had been paying the money to local insurgent commanders in Surobi, east of Kabul, to avoid politically-damaging Italian casualties.
However, the secret payments were kept hidden from French commanders who replaced the Italians in mid-2008, leaving them to misjudge disastrously the danger in the district, the paper said.
A month after the Italian troops departed, a lightly armed French patrol was ambushed and surrounded by an estimated 170 fighters. Ten paratroopers were killed and 21 wounded in the bloodiest day for the French forces in 25 years.
French outrage at the attack was heightened with the revelation some of the dead had been mutilated and the later emergence of photos of Taliban fighters posing in captured French uniforms.
Ignazio La Russa, Italian defence minister, dismissed the allegations in the newspaper "absolute rubbish"
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