April 13, 2010 / 4:06 PM / in 10 years

Afghans demand compensation for German raid

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Survivors and relatives of the victims of a German-ordered NATO air strike in northern Afghanistan gathered on Tuesday to demand compensation from German troops.

On September 4, a U.S. fighter jet called in by German troops struck two fuel trucks NATO said at the time had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimate between 60 and 70 civilians were killed. The incident sent shockwaves around Germany and ultimately forced its then defense minister to step down.

Around 50 people, some of them relatives of the dead and some who were wounded in the raid, gathered outside the human rights commission in the provincial capital of northern Kunduz, demanding compensation and that those who carried out the raid be put on trial. The incident happened north of Kunduz city.

“We want German troops to compensate us. I have no job and the lives of my children and my family must be considered,” said Noor Jan, who lost one of his hands in the raid.

Another man, Gulab Jan, who lost family members during the air strike, said many children from his village had lost their parents.

“The village is full of orphaned children... No one cares about them, no one is worried about them,” he said.

Some held banners demanding justice for their dead relatives.

“We want justice and want those who killed innocent people to be put on trial,” read one banner.

An Afghan-German born lawyer, Karim Popal, who has taken on the case of 165 Afghans in Kunduz who say they lost relatives in the air strike, said in December he had refused an offer from the German government for 3 million euros ($4.36 million) in compensation, saying the victims needed long-term help.

In January, Popal told a news conference he had come to an agreement with the German defense ministry which would provide immediate winter assistance for the victims and also more longer term projects, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Popal said the projects still had to be negotiated but said they could include an orphanage and agricultural assistance.

The German provincial reconstruction team run by German troops in Kunduz could not be reached immediately for comment.

The United Nations says new guidelines issued by the commander of NATO and U.S. forces last year have helped reduce civilian deaths, but these incidents still cause deep anger among Afghans the foreign troops are meant to protect.

More than 2,400 civilians were killed in 2009, making it the deadliest year of a war now more than eight years old.

A report released this week by the organization Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) found that while most countries did offer compensation for death or injury, there was still no uniform policy across troop-contributing nations, which hindered the impact these payments have.

CIVIC said Germany and Italy were the only countries covered in their report that did not have “designated funds or standard policy on compensation for civilian harm.”

Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Jerry Norton

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