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German Soldier Killed, Three Hurt In Afghanistan

Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung
BERLIN -- A German soldier has been killed and three more injured in an attack by militant forces in northern Afghanistan, German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung said.

The soldiers were hit by an explosion near the city of Konduz. It was initially unclear exactly what kind of device caused the blast, German officials said.

"Today a German soldier was killed in a malicious attack in Afghanistan which injured three others," Jung told reporters, adding the incident would not stop Germany from doing what it could to bring stability to Afghanistan.

The death of the patrol leader brings the number of German soldiers killed in attacks in Afghanistan since early 2002 to 12, while 16 more have died in accidents or from other causes.

Germany has about 3,500 troops deployed in Afghanistan, mainly in the north which is less dangerous than southern and western areas.

But Berlin is under pressure from the United States and other NATO allies to boost the number of troops and shift soldiers to southern provinces to help fight Taliban insurgents.

Jung has said Germany plans to increase the number of troops it could sent to Afghanistan by about 1,000 later this year but public opinion is skeptical and any increase in troop numbers needs parliamentary approval.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also condemned the attack. Asked about any consequences for German policy in Afghanistan, he said, "This is not the time to decide."

NATO forces have been fighting a fierce insurgency by Taliban militants since 2005. In the last year, the Taliban have increased attacks in provinces bordering the Afghan capital of Kabul, closing in from the volatile south and east.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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