Afghan Mission In Doubt After Lies About Civilian Deaths Force German Minister To Resign

November 27, 2009 BBC World The future of Germany's mission in Afghanistan was thrown into doubt today after a government minister resigned under gro

November 27, 2009 BBC World

The future of Germany's mission in Afghanistan was thrown into doubt today after a government minister resigned under growing pressure to admit his involvement in a campaign of misinformation over an air raid in which civilians were killed.

Franz Josef Jung, defence minister at the time, quit as labour minister a day after the army's chief of staff, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, resigned over the incident with the deputy defence minister, Peter Wichert.

Jung said his decision followed "detailed consideration" and that he accepted "political responsibility for the internal information policy" in his ministry.

With an estimated two-thirds of the German public already against involvement, the defence ministry's admission that it effectively lied by initially denying there were civilian casualties when two petrol tankers were bombed in September has left Angela Merkel's recently re-elected centre-right government in a state of uncertainty over how to proceed in the region.

Video footage emerged yesterdayof the botched air raid ordered by the German commander, Colonel Georg Klein, on the basis of a single piece of intelligence from an Afghan informant who was unable to see the vehicles. The video, leaked to the tabloid Bild, possibly in an attempt to influence a parliamentary decision on extending the German troop presence, prompted Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the new defence minister, to admit his ministry had at best withheld information and at worst lied about the deaths. Read more at Guardian

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