Germany 's labour minister Franz Josef Jung has resigned from the country's cabinet after a deadly bombing in Afghanistan.
Jung resigned hours after saying he had no plans to quit over the bombing of two oil tanker lorries in the northern province of Kunduz, which took place in September while he was serving as defence minister.
Germany's Bild newspaper reported on Thursday that videos and a secret military report had clearly pointed to civilians having been killed during the attack at the time when the government and the army was saying only Taliban fighters had died, Aljazeera.net reports.
The resignation of Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the army's chief of staff, came after Germany's Bild newspaper reported he knew civilians could be killed when the Sept. 4 airstrike was ordered.
The attack in the northern province of Kunduz killed at least 90 people, according to reports at the time. Bild said 142 people were killed. Local Afghan officials said at least half of the dead were civilians, and NATO acknowledged soon afterward that civilians had been killed.
NATO said the death toll is contained in a classified report about the incident that is now in the hands of German authorities.
The German commander in the area called in the strike after Afghans tried to siphon fuel from two tankers hijacked by the Taliban a day earlier. The fuel had been earmarked for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), BBC News reports.
Mr. Jung also struggled over the summer to strike the right tone as the increasing violence in the once-peaceful northern part of Afghanistan, where Germany leads the multinational force responsible for security, made the mission more dangerous and harder to sell to a public unsupportive of the country’s participation in the conflict. He famously refused to call the conflict “war” even though German soldiers found themselves in sustained combat with a more resilient foe.
After the latest revelations, Mr. Jung appeared to have become too much of a distraction and political liability to remain in the cabinet.
His statement before Parliament on Thursday that he had learned about the classified report on the airstrike cited by Bild but did not have “concrete information” about it, and apparently forwarded it to NATO investigators without even reading it, was particularly mystifying to opposition lawmakers.
“This was an overdue step. It is the right step,” said Renate Künast, a chairwoman of the opposition Greens in Parliament, The New York Times reports.
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