[QODLink]
Europe
Germany to boost Afghan mission
Parliament agrees to increase troop levels amid growing public opposition to conflict.
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2010 13:15 GMT
The decision will see a maximum of 5,350 German troops deployed to Afghanistan [GALLO/GETTY]

Germany's parliament has voted to increase its troop level in Afghanistan by 850 and extend its mission in the country by one year.

The government plans to send 500 troops to the war-torn country, with the remaining 350 on standby and tasked with training up Afghan security forces.

The increase, which will see Germany's mandate for the country raised to 5,350 soldiers, was less than Nato had pushed for, reflecting strong public opposition to further deployment.

During Friday's vote in Germany's lower house the Left Party raised its opposition to the bill by holding up placards with the names of people killed in a Nato bombing ordered by a German officer in September.

"Germany is involved in a war against the ordinary population in Afghanistan," Christine Buchholz, a Left Party politician said during the debate.

"However you justify the war, you are deciding today about life or death."

'Victory for sense'

But despite growing public disillusionment over the conflict, some 429 of 622 lawmakers backed the troop increase, with 111 voting against.

Guido Westerwelle, Germany's foreign minister, said the vote was a "victory for sense and responsibility".

"Our Afghanistan policy could not carry on as it had before, everyone knows that. But at the same time, we could not rashly leave and look away."

German troops currently form the third-largest contingent in the 110,000-strong international force behind the United States and Britain.

The new head of the German army said earlier February that Afghanistan could be as much as two decades away from being a functioning state.

The vote came as Taliban suicide bombers hit private guesthouses in the centre of Kabul, killing 16 people including foreigners in one of the deadliest attacks on the Afghan capital in a year.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
New report highlights plight of domestic helpers in the United Kingdom, with critics comparing it to kefala system.
join our mailing list