Germany mourns dead from Afghan suicide bomb

24th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

24 May 2007, Cologne, Germany (dpa) - Germany mourned Wednesday three of its soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, with Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said they had been working to build a better Afghanistan. The three reserve quartermasters, who were members of a provincial reconstruction team in Kunduz, were killed Saturday near the town market when they stepped out of an army vehicle to buy a refrigerator for their camp. Standing near the three coffins at a memorial service in an air f

24 May 2007

Cologne, Germany (dpa) - Germany mourned Wednesday three of its soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, with Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said they had been working to build a better Afghanistan.

The three reserve quartermasters, who were members of a provincial reconstruction team in Kunduz, were killed Saturday near the town market when they stepped out of an army vehicle to buy a refrigerator for their camp.

Standing near the three coffins at a memorial service in an air force hangar at Cologne Airport, Jung promised Germany would help Afghan authorities track down whoever ordered the attack and bring them to justice.

Relations of the dead asked media not to intrude on their grief at the official service, attended by three state premiers and senior armed forces officers.

The dead men "were working for a better and peaceful future in Afghanistan," said Jung. "Their service has contributed to peace in the world."

An Airbus A-310 transport aircraft had flown the men's remains home on the final leg from Uzbekistan.

The attack Saturday, which also left two Germans seriously wounded, has triggered criticism in Germany of the US-led campaign to destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The losses were the German forces' first deaths in Afghanistan for a year and a half and recalled a 2003 Kabul suicide attack which killed four Germans.

Saturday's blast also killed five Afghan civilians and the bomber. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The German survivors were flown home Monday. Two have been kept in a drug-induced coma while they recover.

Germans have worried they are being sucked into the war with the Taliban though they want to focus on reconstruction.

Unidentified attackers fired three rocket-propelled grenades at a German military base in Afghanistan Tuesday evening, causing no damage or injuries, a defence ministry spokesman said in Berlin.

The projectiles were fired at a camp in Faizabad, capital of the north-eastern province Badakhshan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel began a cabinet meeting Wednesday with a minute of silence for Saturday's three dead and Germany's Bundestag parliament was planning a similar gesture Thursday.

Peter Struck, a senior Social Democrat in the Merkel cabinet and former defence minister, said a debate was needed on Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the US-led war on the Taliban.

He said many Afghans had the impression it was being pursued without regard for civilian casualties.

The main German force is far from the fighting in the relatively calm north of Afghanistan, but Germany has lent up to 100 commandoes and aerial reconnaissance for OEF.

In Berlin, Jung insisted this would continue, while adding, "We do need to fight terrorism. But we must also react appropriately. Civilian victims undermine our efforts to secure peace and mean we cannot win public support."

Criticism also came from a former commander of the German armed forces, retired air force general Harald Kujat. He said the international community had no strategy in Afghanistan.

DPA

Subject: German news

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