KABUL - A renegade Afghan soldier who shot dead four French troops paid a bribe to rejoin his country's army after deserting, the US news website McClatchy said on Saturday.

The 21-year-old soldier had already bribed a recruiter to enter the army a first time, he said during questioning after the killings in January, according to the first pages of his statement seen by AFP.

In April 2011, the recruiter "asked me if I wanted to serve in army, I said yes but told him I didn't have National ID," the soldier said in his statement, shown to AFP by McClatchy.

"He told me to pay him some money and he would take care of it." He said he paid 500 Afghanis ($10) and the recruiter took him to a nearby hotel to prepare the paperwork, before going to the training centre.

After eight months in the army, the soldier said he "escaped" to Peshawar, Pakistan's main northwestern city that borders Taliban and Al-Qaeda strongholds near the Afghan border, where he stayed "some time".

When he returned to Kabul, he said he paid the same recruiter 800 Afghanis to re-infiltrate the army.

On January 20, the man shot dead four unarmed French soldiers during training at a base in Gwan, in the eastern province of Kapisa.

During initial questioning, the soldier claimed he carried out the attack because of a video showing US Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban insurgents, security sources told AFP in the days after the killings.

The incident prompted French President Nicolas Sarkozy to say his country would end its combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2013 -- instead of the planned NATO deadline of the end of 2014.

On Friday, NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels endorsed a French proposal to beef up security measures to stop insurgents infiltrating the Afghan army.

NATO did not provide details about the plans but they are expected to focus on better controlling the recruitment of Afghans, more thorough investigations of potential recruits and the use of biometric technology.