A German soldier at an outpost in northern Afghanistan has died of gunshot wounds. Military officials said "no combat situation" was apparent.
More than 40 German soldiers have died in Afghanistan
A soldier with the German Bundeswehr mission in Afghanistan died of a gunshot wound in the north of the country, military officials announced on Friday evening.
A spokesman for the Bundeswehr Operations Command in Potsdam said the 21-year-old male soldier was found at an outpost north of the Pol-e-Khomri field camp with severe gunshot wounds. He was then brought via helicopter to the camp, where he died during emergency surgery.
The soldier's family had been informed and an investigation into the accident had begun, officials said. One spokesman told the German DPA news agency that a "no combat situation" was apparent.
Pol-e-Khomri lies south of Kunduz in the far north of Afghanistan, where most of the approximately 4,600 German soldiers are stationed as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force. German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg visited the post on a trip to Afghanistan several months ago.
More than 40 German troops have died in Afghanistan since the beginning of the German mission there 10 years ago. German troops are scheduled to begin leaving the country in late 2011 - a timeframe which Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle reiterated to parliament on Thursday.
The German mission in Afghanistan was important, he said, because German security was at stake, "but it is also important that the mission not be allowed to last forever."
German lawmakers are to vote on a new mandate for troops in Afghanistan in January. Currently up to 5,000 soldiers and 350 reserve soldiers could be stationed in the country.
Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Ian Johnson