Germany: Civilians Likely Killed in Afghan Strike

By: Melissa Eddy - AP Writer
By: Melissa Eddy - AP Writer

Germany's defense minister said Friday he believes civilians were killed in an airstrike in Afghanistan, but insisted that the German-requested attack was necessary from a military standpoint.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said a NATO report concludes there
were "procedural errors" in the Sept. 4 airstrike, but he
defended the decision by a German commander to request it as
"appropriate in military terms."

The commander, Col. Georg Klein, called in the NATO airstrike
against two tanker trucks that had been seized by Taliban
insurgents near Kunduz, fearing they could be used to attack
troops.

Although the information remains contradictory, "I personally
assume that there were civilian victims," Guttenberg told
reporters after assessing the NATO report.

He stressed that "I regret ... every civilian victim deeply."

The report prepared by the NATO-led International Security
Assistance Force remains classified, but Guttenberg was allowed to
present it to members of Germany's parliament responsible for
military affairs.

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley
McChrystal, appointed a Canadian major general to lead the
investigation along with officers from the U.S. Air Force and
German military.

Guttenberg did not elaborate on the procedural errors that were
found. However, he said the report made clear that "contradictory,
confusing and at times outdated rules of engagement" had come into
play in the incident.

He said that "there is considerable room for improvement at the
international level, but also at a national level" and said German
troops would receive appropriate instruction to prevent future
misunderstandings.

Germany has more than 4,000 troops serving in northern
Afghanistan and 36 have been killed so far in the mission.


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