NATO report criticises German colonel in Afghan airstrike

Last Updated: Friday, November 6, 2009 - 11:19

Brussels: A NATO report on an airstrike in Afghanistan in September was critical of the German colonel who called for the attack, a high-ranking NATO officer has said.

Colonel Georg Klein acted against orders and service regulations in calling for the strike and should not have done so, said the report released Thursday. Instead, a decision to conduct a strike should have come from US commander General Stanley McChrystal.

Klein would only have been authorised to call for a strike if his troops were in direct danger, and called for the strike without speaking with McChrystal, the report said.

Klein summoned US air support to destroy two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban just a few kilometres from a German base. Villagers say the bombs also killed civilians who were stealing petrol from the trucks, which were stranded at night in a river bed.
German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is to present the report to parliamentary officials in Berlin Friday.

Last week, the head of the German armed forces, General Wolfgang Schneiderhan, said the NATO inquiry had placed no blame on German forces. "I see no grounds to doubt that the German soldiers acted appropriately in operational matters on the basis of a UN mandate and in a difficult situation," he said.

A report to Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated in mid-September that 30 civilians and 69 Taliban fighters were killed in the strike.


First Published: Friday, November 6, 2009 - 11:19

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