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Taliban possibly tapping Berlin's secrets

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Taliban possibly tapping Berlin's secrets
Steinmeier greets an Afghan security man in Kabul. Photo: DPA
14:28 CEST+02:00
Deadly attacks on the German military by the Taliban in Afghanistan this week have led intelligence experts to suspect the Islamist group may have access to German government information.

Supposedly the Taliban had specific details of what was supposed to be a secret visit by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to the country this week.

According to a western intelligence officer in Kabul, there are “clear signs” that the Taliban has access to secret information from the German government.

“In so-far unknown ways, the Taliban has their fingers in German posts,” the official told news agency DDP.

Three weeks ago, a secret visit to the country by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung was overshadowed by a rocket attack on German forces in the northern city of Kunduz. No one was injured in the attack, but a Taliban speaker at the time said that the group had known about her visit.

One 21-year-old soldier died and four were injured in a fire fight near Kunduz on Wednesday that came just hours after a suicide bomber injured four others in the same area. Two of the soldiers were flown back to Germany for medical treatment.

On Thursday morning Steinmeier met with one of the Bundeswehr soldiers injured in the two insurgent attacks.

The attacks on the Bundeswehr troops were meant to be a “sign for the Foreign Minister,” a Taliban member said after the attack.

The attacks show a new level of confidence from the Taliban, Bundeswehr General Inspector Wolfgang Schneiderhan said on Thursday.

“For the first time there is an aspect of military planning behind it,” he said, adding that they had changed their previous tactic of “shooting and running.”

Steinmeier's visit takes place just a few weeks after a conference at The Hague where the international community discussed the state of the country.

Germany has around 3,500 troops in Afghanistan operating under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The soldiers are based in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan.

Last year the German parliament voted to increase to Bundeswehr troop numbers to 4,500, despite the fact that the mission, Germany's first major overseas military operation since World War II, has been highly unpopular. Thirty-one German troops have died in Afghanistan since 2002.

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