NATO general calls for vigilance after leak of Afghan files

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German General Egon Ramms, responsible for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, called Monday for greater vigilance after the leak of 92,000 secret US military documents on the war.

"At the moment we always actually have to wait until papers or documents are pushed out into the open via leaks, but that obliges even more to work with with the greatest care," he said.

"We are not waging our own war in Afghanistan but acting on political orders," Ramms, who is based in the NATO command centre in the Dutch city of Brunssum, told the online edition of Germany's economic daily Handelsblatt.

Whistleblowers' website Wikileaks has leaked some 92,000 documents dating from 2004 to 2009 to The New York Times, Britain's Guardian newspaper and Germany's Der Spiegel news weekly.

They include details of civilian victims of the war in Afghanistan and evidence of links between the Pakistani intelligence service and the Taliban, something the Afghan authorities have long been claiming was the case.

The White House reacted furiously saying the documents' release late Sunday was "irresponsible."

Britain said Monday it regretted the leak, but again called on Pakistan to dismantle all militant groups operating on its soil.

In Berlin, the defence ministry, which has some 4,600 troops in northern Afghanistan, strongly criticized the leaks.

But the Kabul government has welcomed the leak. A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the leaks highlighted the role Pakistan's intelligence service plays in destabilising Afghanistan.

And Karzai himself said the documents showed that NATO troops had fired a rocket that killed 52 "innocent" villagers in southern Afghanistan, as leaked documents laid bare the civilian toll of the US-led war.

© 2010 AFP

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