27 November 2009

NEWS: Germany's Senior Soldier Out

Germany's senior military official is out following a controversial airstrike in Afghanistan.

The head of Germany's armed forces and a senior defence ministry official were forced to resign yesterday over reports the military withheld details about a deadly air strike in Afghanistan.

Opposition parties also called for Franz Josef Jung – the defence minister at the time of the strike and now labour minister – to step down in what could become a major embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel just as she considers sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Mrs Merkel stopped short of fully endorsing Mr Jung, a member of her Christian Democrats.

The air strike, ordered by a German commander and carried out by a US F-15 fighter on 4 September, was the deadliest operation involving German troops since the Second World War, killing 69 Taleban fighters but also 30 civilians, according to the Afghan government.

In the days after the strike, Mr Jung repeatedly denied that there were any civilian victims.

It was reported yesterday that, just before the start of a parliamentary debate on extending Germany's 4,500-strong mission in Afghanistan, videos and a secret military report had clearly pointed to civilian casualties at the time Mr Jung and the military were denying them.

By: Brant

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