German army to move to northern Afghanistan
22 December 2005, KABUL - Germany next year will shift most of its 2,500 troops in Afghanistan from Kabul to the north, the military announced Thursday.
22 December 2005
KABUL - Germany next year will shift most of its 2,500 troops in Afghanistan from Kabul to the north, the military announced Thursday.
Of the 1,400 German troops now in the capital, only 500 will remain by the end of 2006, German Defence Minister Franz-Josef Jung said during a visit to Afghanistan, and the most important German base would then become Mazar-e-Sharif.
However, he added that the danger would not pass for the soldiers with the redeployment. "We have malicious attacks here that we must prepare for," he said in the capital.
Germany has the largest contingent in the 9,000-strong International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), which is helping Afghanistan's government with security. The 36-nation force was established four years ago by the United Nations.
Since mid-November, four suicide attacks have been carried out against ISAF forces. In one of the attacks on November 14, a German soldier was killed
"It is a dangerous assignment," Jung told troops during his visit.
He ruled out a German deployment in restive provinces, however.
The ISAF now is deployed in and near Kabul as well as in northern and western Afghanistan, but next year, it is to expand its operations into provinces in the south where remnants of the ousted Taliban regime and fighters with the al-Qaeda terrorist network have been fighting Afghan and U.S. troops.
The United States now has 2,500 soldiers in the south, but British and Canadian forces are also to be sent in.
Jung told German ZDF television that no more German troops will be sent to Afghanistan and that he hoped the democratisation and stabilization of the country would continue so Germany could soon send some troops home.
After his one-day visit to Afghanistan, Jung returned to Islamabad for talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Rao Sikandar Iqbal, on increasing cooperation in defence, military education and training as well as meet with German troops engaged in relief and rescue efforts in the aftermath of the October 8 earthquake there.
He is also to call on Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Jung's trip is his first overseas after the new German government took power last month. He first stopped in Washington before visiting German troops on the Horn of Africa and flying to Pakistan. He is to leave Islambad Friday to return to Berlin.
Subject: German news