Minister says Afghanistan better; tribal leaders give mixed reviews

Other News Materials 11 March 2009 13:48 (UTC +04:00)

German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said Wednesday the security situation in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz had stabilized after three German soldiers were killed there last year, but he got mixed reviews when meeting with tribal leaders there, reproted dpa.

Although just before his visit to the German army's headquarters in Kunduz, three rockets hit outside the camp, inuring no one but damaging a gate, some of the tribal leaders said they had seen security improvements.

"The security situation was bad, but for the past few months, we have been master of the situation with the help of our German friends," one said.

But another participant said "the other side" must do more, in apparent reference to the international community.

Other participants expressed a desire for Germany and other countries to bring more jobs and economic growth to Afghanistan.

"We haven't seen anything yet from our own government," one tribal leader complained, adding that after the presidential election in August, the old or new leaders would "be busy filling their pockets, not with the people."

Another said, "The militants have won much power" and the people of the region are disappointed. Reconstruction projects are few, and many young people are unemployed, he said.

Jung argued that reconstruction in the region was moving forward but added before he travelled on to Kabul that the Afghan government must make sure aid gets to the region, because Afghans must feel that the international community supports them.

About 770 German soldiers are stationed in Kunduz, a deployment that began more than five years ago. More and more attacks have been carried out against them, resulting in the deaths of three German soldiers last year and an incident in which a German soldier opened fire on civilians, killing a woman and two children.

Altogether, 3,800 German soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan, all in the north.

The German army's mandate allows the deployment of 4,500 soldiers in the Central Asian country, but Berlin was not expected to fulfil a US request for Germany and more of its NATO partners to raise their troop numbers