Germany has around 5,000 troops in northern AfghanistanImage: picture alliance/dpa
May 29, 2011
Two German soldiers and the police chief of northern Afghanistan were killed in a suicide attack in Takhar province. General Markus Kneip, the German commander of NATO forces in the region, survived the attack.
Afghan officials said on Sunday that an investigation was underway into the suicide attack, which killed seven people, including two German soldiers and two senior Afghan police commanders.
German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere confirmed that the two German soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in the northern Afghan city of Taloqan on Saturday.
Five more German soldiers were injured, including General Markus Kneip, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for northern Afghanistan. Kneip was the most senior NATO official to have been injured in a Taliban assault since international forces were deployed to the country nearly 10 years ago.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in the Omani capital Muscat on Sunday that the attack would not alter Berlin's Afghanistan policy.
Westerwelle called the suicide bombing "painful," but added that it would "not divert us from carrying out our strategy in Afghanistan."
The police chief of northern Afghanistan, General Mohammed Daud Daud, and the head of the provincial police in Takhar, Shah Jahan Noori, also died in the attack.
The governor of Takhar, Abdul Jabar Taqwa, was injured in the attack, according to Fais Mohammed Tawhidi, a spokesman for the provincial government.
The attack occurred as officials were leaving a meeting with the governor of Takhar concerning regional security. The meeting came after violent demonstrations in Taloqan, in which German soldiers fired on protesters in self-defense.
"At the end of the meeting, as we wanted to leave, a suicide bomber was waiting for us in the hall and blew himself up," said Kutbuddin Kamal, a high-ranking assistant to the governor.
Taliban claim responsibility
Seven people in total were killed and nine more were injured in the attack, according to Tawhidi.
"What we know is that the attacker was wearing a police uniform," Tawhidi said. "We don't know how he managed to enter the conference room without being searched."
Lieutenant General Rainer Glatz, head of the German military's operations command in Potsdam, said the attack may have been carried out by more than one perpetrator.
"We have to assume that its was an attack by several assassins," he said.
General Zalmai Wessa, the top Afghan army commander in the northern region, who was also at the meeting and survived the attack, said on Sunday that "initial information indicates that the bomber was wearing a security uniform."
The Taliban took credit for the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said most of the participants at the meeting were killed.
Condemnation in Germany
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, on a visit to the Gulf state of Oman, expressed sorrow for the dead and wounded.
"I am deeply shaken by this barbaric terror attack," Westerwelle said. "We mourn for the dead and are concerned about the injured."
Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the Taliban attack as inhumane.
"This terrorist attack demonstrates a murderous disregard for human dignity," Merkel said.
De Maiziere said the attackers sought to destroy Germany's partnership with Afghanistan. He went on to say that the Taliban would not succeed.
"I ask the German people to support our deployment in Afghanistan at exactly this moment," Maiziere said.
"Our soldiers are a part of us all."
Civilians killed in 'friendly fire' incident
Meanwhile, the AFP news agency, quoting an Afghan provincial governor, reported on Sunday that 18 civilians and 20 police were killed by "friendly fire" during US-led air strikes against insurgents in the northeast of the country.
The governor of Nuristan, Jamaluddin Badr, told AFP that the civilians were mistaken for Taliban fighters after the militants fled inot civilian houses.
ISAF spokesman, Major Tim James, said a fact-finding team was dispatched to the scene to investigate the allegations.