October 29, 2009 / 3:21 PM / 10 years ago

Germany says NATO exonerates it on Afghan airstrike

BERLIN (Reuters) - German troops acted appropriately when they called in a deadly airstrike on two fuel trucks in Afghanistan according to a NATO investigation, a top German general said on Thursday.

The September 4 strike was the most deadly operation involving German troops since World War Two, killing 69 Taliban fighters and 30 civilians, the Afghan government has said.

The attack, carried out by a U.S. F-15 fighter jet, was condemned by several European foreign ministers. But Germany has said it was necessary to protect its troops from a possible suicide attack by Taliban fighters who had hijacked the trucks.

“In light of the results of the investigation, I have no reason to doubt that German soldiers acted appropriately in military terms given the difficult situation and on the basis of the United Nations mandate,” Wolfgang Schneiderhan, general inspector of the German army, told reporters.

Schneiderhan said the report did not specify the total number of victims and declined to give further details from the NATO report, which is confidential.

Germans remain highly skeptical of military operations more than 60 years after the defeat of the Nazis. It was only a decade ago that German troops participated in their first foreign combat mission since the war.

A majority of Germans want Germany’s 4,200 troops operating in Afghanistan as part of a six-year old NATO mission to come home and with violence there on the rise, support for the deployment is also waning in other Western nations.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Louise Ireland

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