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German gov't stalls media questions on Kunduz bombing scandal

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Dec 14, IRNA -- The German government has stonewalled media questions about the role of the chancellery in the tragic airstrike in Kunduz on September 4 which killed 142 people, many of them civilians.

Talking at a routine press briefing in Berlin on Monday, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm rejected opposition calls for a swift clarification of the German-ordered air attack, saying it was up to the parliamentary fact-finding committee to provide answers to the affair.

The German official dismissed accusations that the airstrike was in violation to the parliamentary mandate.

Wilhelm's comments came in the wake of media reports over the weekend which alleged that the chancellery and defense ministry had authorized the target killing of Taliban leaders during the devastating air strike on two hijacked fuel tankers in Kunduz.

Meanwhile, German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg rejected calls for his resignation in the aftermath of the crisis.

German defense ministry officials had initially claimed the objective of the bombing mission was to prevent the Taliban from using the fuel trucks in a suicide mission against German troops deployed in Afghanistan.

A report released by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stressed that goal of the air strike was to target alleged Taliban leaders near the fuel tankers.

According to media reports, Germany's top-secret KSK elite anti-terror troopers whose main mission is to hunt Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan, were also involved in the airstrike.

The daily Bild newspaper cited German military circles as saying that members of an elite German taskforce, codenamed 'Taskforce 47', may have consulted with the German general who ordered the much-criticized air attack near the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

The parliamentary defense committee is to meet on Wednesday to look into the scandal which has rattled Germany's political scene.

Franz Josef Jung, former defense minister and the military's top officer at the time of the airstrike, resigned from the government in November when it emerged that information about civilian victims may have been withheld up from the public.

A member of the parliamentary defense committee of the opposition Green party, Omid Nouripour has made clear that Merkel and other senior chancellery, defense ministry and military officials could be summoned to the hearing to testify in the scandal.

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