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Pressure mounts on Guttenberg over air strike

The Local · 9 Dec 2009, 19:14

Published: 09 Dec 2009 19:14 GMT+01:00

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Citing a “top secret” assessment by the International Red Cross, weekly magazine Stern said the bombardment in northern Afghanistan in September contravened international law due to the high number of non-combatants it killed.

An addendum to the report listed the names of 74 civilians – including several children aged between eight and 12 – that died in the air strike called by German Col. Georg Klein to destroy two fuel trucks hijacked by the Taliban near the city of Kunduz.

Stern said Guttenberg received the report on November 6 – hours before he called the bombardment “militarily appropriate” during his first press conference as defence minister.

But the Red Cross said it was “unlikely” that the fuel trucks ever could have been converted into rolling bombs to attack German troops in Afghanistan and there was no “imminent threat” for a nearby German base.

Guttenberg admitted last week the air strike had not been justified, however, he told parliament Klein had faced “warlike circumstances” when he decided to call in NATO air support.

Story continues below…

But Der Spiegel magazine reported over the weekend that US fighter pilots had attempted to convince Klein and his air control officer to allow them to scare away people with several low-flying passes over the trucks.

Guttenberg’s spokesman Steffen Moritz rejected on Wednesday that the Stern report raised questions about the minister’s earlier statements. But it will certainly increase pressure on Guttenberg at an upcoming parliamentary inquiry into the incident.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:42 December 9, 2009 by Wabit
The Red Cross said it was ¦quot;unlikely¦quot; that the fuel trucks ever could have been converted into rolling bombs to attack German troops in Afghanistan and there was no ¦quot;imminent threat¦quot; for a nearby German base.

What does the Red Cross know????? Of course it was never intended to convert the fuel Trucks into Rolling Bombs!!!! But the fuel could and indeed would have been used to fill the tanks of Motorbikes, Jeeps and other froms of transport not to mention Mobile generators, as well as helping to keep the Taliban warn in their mountain hideouts.

C'mon Red Cross.... get real.
23:14 December 9, 2009 by nish4u
This airstrikes which cause civilian casulities are not good..I mean, if 9/11 killed innocent people then this bombing also did the same in the pretext of killing terrorists......

I am not sympathizing taliban or jihadis :) ,,, but in case of human rights - as this guy was aware that the bombing would kill innocent people, in my eyes he is equal to those terrorists...
23:38 December 9, 2009 by Wabit
"Show me who your friend is and I will tell you who you are"..........

Wake up my friend, wake up!!!!!
23:41 December 9, 2009 by Victor Scicluna
To compare a soldier to a terrorist is a gross mistake and a shame to people who leave their families to protect us. Clearly any loss of life is regrettable whether civilian or military, they are all humans with families back home, but there is one great difference.

A soldier is their performing his duty and in this case a clear mistake has been done, but a terrorist cold bloodily plans the murder of numerous innocent by standers often weeks in advance, here we have two clear differences.

A soldier might over react or panic and takes a split second decision and we have the luxury to analyse the whole situation from the comfort of our sitting room.

A terrorist knows exactly his/her plan and has only one intention in mind : to cause as much carnage as possible under the pretence that ´god is great` an if god´s will wanted you to be there than so be it.

So please never compare soldiers to terrorists.
01:15 December 10, 2009 by AliFromBerlin
Politics are media-oriented. Guttenberg is perceived as an assertive character. He embodies a different political style. This corresponds to the Obama administration's putting Afghanistan in the forefront again. With Guttenberg Germany will be presented as an able player on the world stage of politics.
09:37 December 10, 2009 by LancashireLad

Could you please check your facts before posting? Or at least make it clear when you know that your understanding is not 100%.

The air strike had nothing to do with killing terrorists and everything to do with stopping the taliban either using the fuel as a weapon against the troops or to fuel their own transport etc.
10:00 December 10, 2009 by Jollyjack
It wouldn't have happened if the army had gone in on the ground to recover the lorries instead of hiding behind the skirts of the US Airforce.
10:18 December 10, 2009 by LancashireLad
The skirts of the NATO air force. Please stop thinking you are the only people capable of doing anything.
11:17 December 10, 2009 by Frenemy
I'm totally loving this discussion!! ;-)

Sorry, LancashireLad, but in this context NATO = US airforce (no one else is gonna risk theater ops without IFF codes...AAA and PAC3 SAMS generally result in a bad day)
11:33 December 10, 2009 by LancashireLad
My point is that the US is not the only military presence in Afghanistan. I doubt that any serving soldier in any army can be accused of hiding behind anybody's skirts, and to attempt to claim so is to belittle the efforts of *all* of those out there.

Has JollyJack ever been in a combat situation? I haven't, and wouldn't want to, but I still acknowledge the efforts of the professional soldiers of *ALL* countries participating. If JJ thinks the US can do it alone then why don't you? I should point out that your president doesn't think so or else he wouldn't be asking various countries to commit more troops.

Ever since the military took to the air it has been recognised that air attacks can be the best way to get the quickest results using the minimum of force, resources and manpower. I would imagine that that is the reason that an air strike was ordered instead of a ground assault.
11:56 December 10, 2009 by Frenemy
"best way to get the quickest results using the minimum of force, resources and manpower. I would imagine that that is the reason that an air strike was ordered instead of a ground assault"

...and you'd be correct ;-)

[the only exception to that rule is a sniper putting down an opposing force's command staff] lol ;-)
12:06 December 10, 2009 by LancashireLad
I notice your judicious snip of my comment. Did you deliberately exclude the previous 3 words? What I actually wrote was:

"can be the best way to get the quickest results"

Notice the difference?
12:16 December 10, 2009 by Frenemy
....judicious indeed ;-)
01:14 December 12, 2009 by Norman Teigen
'War is hell' is something that American general William T. Sherman said. It is too bad that some of these people were killed, but that's what happens in war. Incidental casualties are part of war and it's a damn shame that this happens. Since the overall intent of the war is good, I, as an American, can defend it. I commend the German army for it's valuable contribution on the war on terrorism.
18:04 December 12, 2009 by Frenemy
@Norman: I believe your heart is in the right place but Sherman is poor example. I would put him in the same class of spiteful-bastards as Arthur Harris...(killing civilians en mas to achieve strategic objectives makes you no better than Osama and Co.)
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