German Afghan mission in doubt over air raid lies

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  1. Afghan mission in doubt as air raid lies force German minister to resign
    Dilemma for Merkel over extra troops as cover-up of civilian deaths claims third high-profile figure

    Kate Connolly in Berlin, Friday 27 November 2009 22.42 GMT

    Afghan security forces guard a burned out fuel tanker in Kunduz, north of Kabul, after a Nato air strike killed an unknown number of civilians in September. Photograph: AP

    The future of Germany's mission in Afghanistan was thrown into doubt today after a government minister resigned under growing pressure to admit his involvement in a campaign of misinformation over an air raid in which civilians were killed.

    Franz Josef Jung, defence minister at the time, quit as labour minister a day after the army's chief of staff, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, resigned over the incident with the deputy defence minister, Peter Wichert.

    Jung said his decision followed "detailed consideration" and that he accepted "political responsibility for the internal information policy" in his ministry.

    With an estimated two-thirds of the German public already against involvement, the defence ministry's admission that it effectively lied by initially denying there were civilian casualties when two petrol tankers were bombed in September has left Angela Merkel's recently re-elected centre-right government in a state of uncertainty over how to proceed in the region.