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Germany

Germany's Afghanistan Mission Questioned after Civilian Deaths

After three Afghan civilians, a woman and two children, were killed when German soldiers opened fire on a suspicious civilian vehicle, politicians at home have renewed appeals for a withdrawal of German troops.

German soldier in Afghanistan

Germany's mandate in Afghanistan is up for parliamentary revision in October

Thee civilian deaths have led some German politicians to reiterate calls against Germany's controversial military mandate in Afghanistan.

The Bundeswehr mission in Afghanistan should be ended "in a responsible manner," Hans-Christian Stroebele, deputy parliamentary leader of the Greens, said in the daily Berliner Zeitung on Saturday, Aug. 30.

Similarly, Left party chief Gregor Gysi warned that Germany was threatening to "sink into the mire of a dirty war" which wasn't fighting terror but only leading to more violence.

There's only one solution, he said in the Saturday edition of the Frankfurter Rundschau: "Germany has to pull the Bundeswehr out of Afghanistan."

Alternatively, the secretary general of the Free Democratic Party, Dirk Niebel, called for greater emphasis on Germany's police training mission in the country, so that the Afghan people would ultimately be in a position to maintain public security and order.

Over 60 German police officers are currently stationed in Afghanistan.

Three dead, four injured

Afghan police had confirmed on Friday that a woman and two children were killed when German soldiers opened fire on a civilian vehicle in the northern province of Kunduz. Four other children injured.

The incident -- which occurred south-east of the provincial capital city, also called Kunduz -- took place Thursday evening in a region where German troops lead operations for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said in Berlin.

Two civilian vehicles approaching the checkpoint failed to heed clear signals from the troops manning the checkpoint and the security forces then opened fire, said Raabe.

Signals went unheeded

"When the vehicle did not stop after several signals, the German forces opened fire at the car," said Abdul Rahman Aqtash, security chief of the provincial police department, "When the forces later checked the vehicle, they found two children and a woman dead and four other children wounded in the vehicle."

German, Afghan National Army and Afghan police forces installed the checkpoint in the area after receiving information that a vehicle would smuggle drugs into neighboring Takhar province, he said.

"First, a vehicle approached the checkpoint but escaped when the forces tried to stop it," Aqtash said. "The forces opened fire at the second vehicle, which was driving behind the first one and did not heed repeated signals by the forces."

More than 3,500 German soldiers are serving in the ISAF and are mostly stationed in northern provinces. The ISAF has about 53,000 soldiers from about 40 countries in Afghanistan.

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