An 8-vehicle convoy of soldiers from a paratrooper battalion based in southwestern Germany was on patrol some six kilometres from Kunduz when they encountered a booby trap, German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said. One of the soldiers was killed and three others were evacuated to Mazar-i-Sharif for treatment. It is the first time a German soldier has been killed in Afghanistan in the last 15 months.
“This attack will not keep us from carrying out our duties to help bring about stability and peaceful development in Afghanistan,” Jung told reporters in Berlin. “Afghanistan must not again become a training camp for terrorism.”
Germany has some 3,500 troops stationed in northern Afghanistan with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Jung said the security situation in the mountainous Hindu Kush region has intensified this year, one reason why Germany decided to increase their number of troops there. The victims of Wednesday’s attack were among reinforcements sent there, Jung said, adding that German troops had managed to capture militants and weapons stockpiles in recent weeks.
Experts estimate that some 3,000 people have been killed in the country so far. Three weeks ago the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack that severely injured three other German soldiers. German troops also killed their first Afghan in an alleged insurgent attack last week.
Parliament is set to vote in October on whether the country will renew its Afghanistan policy. Any military action undertaken by the country is deeply unpopular with voters, and Germany has been under increasing international pressure to commit more troops to Afghanistan.