Five German soldiers have been injured Afghanistan after militants targeted a Bundeswehr patrol in the volatile country's north. The UN says it will withdraw more foreign staff after receiving threats from insurgents.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the roadside bomb attack
Five German soldiers were injured over the weekend in Afghanistan in a roadside bomb explosion 60 km from Faisabad and in a second blast that occurred on the outskirts of Kunduz, according to a military spokesman in Potsdam, Germany.
Sunday's attack targeted an armored military vehicle which was struck by a bomb in Chardarah district of Kunduz province. Afghan provincial governor Abdul Wahid Omarkhel said the blast caused damage but there were no serious injuries.
Around two hours later, another German military vehicle was hit by bomb as the soldiers were trying to transport the damaged vehicle, Mohammad Omar, the provincial governor told German news agency dpa. Two Bundeswehr soldiers were injured.
Claim of responsibility
In a telephone call, a spokesman for the Taliban took responsibility for the attacks and claimed that three military tanks were destroyed and all of their occupants were killed.
A German military spokesman in Kunduz confirmed both attacks, saying that one vehicle was damaged and "some of our soldiers were slightly injured."
On Saturday, a bomb in the northern province of Badakhshan injured three German soldiers, local officials and a source from the German military in the region confirmed Sunday. An Afghan interpreter was also wounded in the blast.
One of the wounded soldiers is to be transported back to Germany for hospital treatment, said a German military spokesman. The injuries are "not life-threatening", he said.
Around 4,400 German troops are currently deployed to northern region as part of 120,000 NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the country.
Sunday's attacks came a day after 12 suspected Taliban were killed in a clash with Afghan and NATO forces near Kunduz city.
UN: worst level of violence since 9/11
Ban told Security Council that UN staff are potential target
The deteriorating security situation forced the United Nations to announce that it would be withdrawing more foreign staff from Afghanistan after receiving threats by insurgents. In a report on Afghanistan released over the weekend, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world body continued to be a potential target for militant attacks across the country and it would be cutting the size of its international staff.
The UN foreign staff are to be transferred to Kuwait for an initial period of three months. No details were released about how many staff would be affected. There are currently around 1,000 UN personnel working in Afghanistan.
Already short staffed the UN insisted that it would not affect its mission.
Hundreds of foreign workers were withdrawn after five UN staff were killed in a suicide bomb attack last November in Kabul.
Militants "continue to mention that the United Nations presence country-wide is a possible target of further attacks," said Ban in a quarterly report to the UN Security Council.
"The volatile security environment translates into a high security risk for United Nations personnel, assets and operations."
Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst levels since the Taliban were overthrown in late 2001, with an "alarming" rise in insurgent bomb attacks as well as suicide raids, Ban also said in the report.
Author: Nigel Tandy (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Andreas Illmer