On September 4 this year, an American fighter destroyed two hijacked fuel tankers in northern Afghanistan. The strike was ordered by a German commander. Sixty-nine Taliban fighters were killed along with 30 civilians. The aftershocks continue to reverberate. The head of the German military Wolfgang Schneiderhan and a senior defence official have tendered their resignations over allegations they withheld information from the public concerning the civilian casualties.
In the days that followed the raid the then-Defence Secretary Franz Josef Jung denied any civilians had been killed. However, German media report that secret videos and military papers clearly pointed to the deaths, while the government and army refused to accept any such thing.
Jung, now employment minister, is also facing calls to quit: so far, he has refused.
The resignations come at a difficult time for Chancellor Angela Merkel as the Bundestag is due to debate whether to extend Germany’s military mission in Afghanistan.