Several hundred demonstrators have protested in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate against the involvement of the German army in Afghanistan.
Organised by “The Left” party, activists demanded the immediate withdrawal of the 4,200 troop contingent. With less than three weeks to go before Germany goes to the polls, it is a matter which is fast becoming an election issue. “The Left” party joint-leader Oskar Lafontaine told the protesters: “We are deeply convinced that the last few months must have made it clear to everyone: war is not a political tool.” Earlier in parliament, Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to defend Germany’s role in Afghanistan after last Friday’s deadly airstrike. While she declared that any innocent death was unacceptable, she would reserve judgement on the military action until it was firmly established whether or not Afghan civilians had been killed. Merkel’s government has come under pressure over the US air strike which German troops called in when two tanker trucks were hijacked by Taliban fighters. Afghan officials contradicted German claims that only militants had been killed in the operation.