German defense minister shocked over deadly attack on German troops in Afghanistan

13:18, April 03, 2010      

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German Defense Minister Karl- Theodor zu Guttenberg said he was shocked to learn the death of three German soldiers in Afghanistan, who were killed Friday in a heavy clash with militants in northern Afghanistan, the deadliest fighting for German troops since they started the Afghan mission.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the soldiers and families, ( and) the fighting of this scale has clearly showed how dangerous the necessary mission in Afghanistan is," Guttenberg said, according to a spokesman of German Defense Ministry.

The minister has cut short his Easter holiday in South Africa, and will come back to Germany soon, the spokesman said.

A spokesman of the German military operations command in Potsdam confirmed the soldiers were patrolling in district of Chahar Dara, southwest of Kunduz city when they were attacked by the ambushed Taliban militants.

The German soldiers were attacked by heavy fires including rocket-propelled grenades, he added.

German weekly Der Spiegel online reported that some 200 Taliban militants were involved in the ambush, three German soldiers were shot dead and some injured. As the German troops tried to move to a safer place in the battle, their armored vehicle was hit by a mine placed along the road, several other soldiers badly injured.

The badly wounded soldiers, four of whom were in critical condition, were transferred by helicopters to a military camp in Kunduz, the report said.

A Taliban spokesman told Der Spiegel that they claimed responsibility for the attack, adding that they destroyed several German vehicles, killing up to eight German soldiers.

German television ZDF quoted its reporter in Afghanistan as saying that the patrol was ambushed at about 2 a.m. local time, as they tried to clear roadside bombs.

It was the first deadly fighting for German troops in Afghanistan this year. Before the fighting, 36 German soldiers had been killed in the war-torn country since Berlin sent troops to Afghanistan in 2002.

Germany currently has some 4,500 troops in Afghanistan for the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.

Source: Xinhua


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