US-German Rift Grows Over Afghan Bombing

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 6, 2009 7:53 PM CDT
An Afghan soldier walks, near one of the two fuel tankers, seen in the back ground, which were bombed by in a NATO airstrike on Friday in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – An airstrike by US fighter jets that appears to have killed Afghan civilians could turn into a major dispute for NATO allies Germany and the United States, with tensions rising over Germany's role in ordering the attack. Afghan and NATO investigations are just beginning, but both German and US officials already appeared to be trying to deflect blame. "It was clear that our soldiers were in danger," said German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung.

German commanders who ordered the attack saw images from a US aircraft showing about 120 people, US Gen. Stanley McChrystal said. The commanders decided that the people were militants and ordered the airstrikes, said another US commander, even though images provided by the US aircraft would have been grainy and difficult to see. Whether the German commanders or the US pilot who bombed the area are at fault may turn into an inner-NATO tussle.