Four German soldiers have been injured in a suicide bomb blast in northern Afghanistan, one day after a NATO air strike killed dozens of Taliban insurgents, as well as civilians.
German troops are deployed in the fairly calm Kunduz region
The suicide bomber blew himself up in an explosives-laden car outside a German army base, five kilometers from Kunduz, a provincial capital, about 250 kilometers north of Kabul. An army transporter carrying German troops was damaged and at least three soldiers inside the vehicle were slightly injured, according to the German Military Operations Command in Potsdam.
German officials in Afghanistan said the target of the attack was the Bundeswehr military base. Two AP reporters at the base later said the shock wave was felt inside the compound.
A Taliban spokesman said the fundamentalist Islamist militia was responsible for the attack and that the bomber came from the Chardarah district of Kunduz, where the Taliban is active.
Kunduz area becomes more dangerous
Afghan forces still rely on NATO and German support
The area around Kunduz has become increasingly dangerous for the approximately 4,000-strong German troop contingent stationed there. In recent weeks, insurgents have repeatedly ambushed patrols and engaged German soldiers in hours-long firefights.
The German defense ministry has attributed the spate of recent attacks as an effort by the Taliban to influence the outcome of the German federal election at the end of September.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung sought to justify a NATO air strike on two hijacked fuel trucks in Kunduz on Friday. That attack, requested by German forces, left up to 90 people dead or injured, according to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afghan officials and local residents said the dead included up to 40 civilians. The German army has so far said that more than 50 Taliban militants died, but that no civilians were involved.
Minister Jung was quoted on the Bild Zeitung website as saying that "when just six kilometers away from us, the Taliban take two fuel tankers, that represents a serious danger for us."
Editor: Nick Amies