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Germany/Afghanistan - minister resigns

Jung quits cabinet over Kunduz killings

Article published on the 2009-11-27 Latest update 2009-11-27 14:44 TU

Franz Josef Jung in Afghanistan in 2008(Photo: Reuters)

Franz Josef Jung in Afghanistan in 2008
(Photo: Reuters)

Former Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung resigned on Friday from the German cabinet. His is the latest head to roll after charges of a cover-up of the deaths of civilians in September's air-strike in the Afghan province of Kunduz.

Jung quit his job as Education Minister, to which he was appointed after September's election.

Earlier that month, when he held the defence portfolio, he insisted that "only Taliban terrorists" were killed when German planes bombed two trucks in Kunduz.

But a confidential Nato report in late October said that the death toll was between 17 and 142 and that local sources said that 30-40 civilians died.

Further reports revealed video of the strike and claimed that the Defence Ministry hushed up another report on civilian casualties which suggested commanders on the ground did not observe agreed rules of engagement.

On Thursday Chief of Staff General Wolfgang Schneiderhan resigned over the scandal.

Jung declared on Friday that he was taking "political responsibility for the internal information policy of the Defence Ministry" regarding the events.

"With this action, I would like to help the federal government continue without hindrance its successful work and avert damage to the army," he said. 

"We welcome the resignation of the German chief of staff, this is a good step," said Assadullah Omar Khil, elder of the Omar Khil tribe in Kunduz where the strike took place. "He showed his sense of humanity and proved he did not want to kill Afghan civilians. "

Violence in the north of  Afghanistan increased around the August presidential election but has slightly subsided since.