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May 21, 2011

The Defense Ministry in Berlin has said that German soldiers not only fired warning shots but also targeted demonstrators during violent protests in the Northern Afghanistan city of Talokan.

German soldiers in Talokan, Afghanistan
The German military says its soldiers acted in self-defenseImage: picture alliance/dpa

The German military on Friday, May 20, said its soldiers deliberately shot several people during a violent protest on Wednesday outside their base in the Northern Afghanistan city of Talokan.

The protesters had attacked the German soldiers' camp in Talokan with stones, hand grenades and Molotov cocktails.

According to the German military, its soldiers initially fired warning shots into the air and then began to fire targeted shots primarily in the leg area of demonstrators who continued to be violent.

Three German soldiers and five Afghan watchmen were wounded during the clash. Twelve demonstrators died.

"There is no evidence that attackers were killed by shots from German soldiers," said a statement from the Bundeswehr.

The German military's operations command alerted the federal prosecutor about the incident. However, a spokesperson for the federal prosecutor said that no concrete investigation was underway.

The operations command said that the soldiers' actions were "undisputedly in self-defense."

The protests were triggered by the deaths of four people at the hands of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Protesters say the dead were civilians while ISAF claims they were members of an Uzbek Islamic terrorist organization.

Opposition demands answers

Scene from demonstration in Talokan
The protests erupted after ISAF killed four AfghansImage: AP

The opposition in the German parliament, the Bundestag, called on Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere to provide an explanation without reservations.

"The public has a right to know when and why German soldiers deployed abroad shoot into a crowd of people," said Klaus Ernst, head of the Left party.

"The suspicion of an attempted cover up will continue to exist so long as de Maiziere does not answer parliament's questions."

Christian Ströbele, member of the left-leaning Green Party, said the German military must "exactly describe to parliament, the public and the federal prosecutor whether and - if it is the case - why German soldiers acted in self-defense."

Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Toma Tasovac