Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wire: US-German Rift Emerges Over Afghan Airstrike Deaths

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that airstrike by U.S. fighter jets that appears to have killed Afghan civilians could turn into a major dispute between NATO allies Germany and the United States, as tensions began rising Sunday over Germany's role in ordering the attack, The Associated Press said.

Officials have said up to 90 people were killed in the airstrike Friday in the northern province of Kunduz after Taliban militants stole two tanker trucks of fuel and villagers gathered to siphon off gas.

Afghan and NATO investigations are ongoing, but both German and U.S. officials already appeared to be trying to deflect blame, AP said.

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said the Taliban's possession of the two tankers "posed an acute threat to our soldiers." German officials have said the tankers might have been used as suicide bombs.

Meanwhile, Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the top U.S. and NATO spokesman in the country, said German troops let slip too many hours before visiting the site of the bombing Friday.

He explained that it's important to hold the ground after a strike and determine what happened before the enemy comes out with its own version of events, AP said.

AP noted that German troops in Afghanistan have been criticized for avoiding combat operations.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: US-German rift emerges over Afghan deaths case

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