`Germany’s elite KSK commando unit issued a rare statement to signal its disapproval over the release of an Afghan it had detained for taking part in a deadly raid on German troops.
The development comes at an awkward time for Germany, which as part of the NATO force combating the Taliban is placing increasing trust in Afghan authorities in a “partnering” drive to gradually hand over security responsibilities.
The commandos, along with Afghan forces, detained Mohammed Naim in March on suspicion of taking part in an ambush on German troops a year earlier that had left three soldiers dead and several others severely wounded after an hours-long firefight, Reuters reports.
Naim was handed over to authorities in Kabul, where the KSK said he admitted to having been in a battle near the German base in Kunduz.
“He is said to have been released by investigating prosecutors in early June for lack of direct proof of his participation in the act,” the KSK said. The commando unit operates in secret and rarely comments to the public.
On Friday, Germany’s mass-selling Bild newspaper ran a photo of a burnt-out German armoured car being salvaged by a dozen men including one, wearing a broad smile, it says is Naim, who has since disappeared.
“He must have powerful friends in Kabul,” the paper quoted an unnamed German officer as saying.
The association of German military veterans urged Berlin to clarify the case.
“Our soldiers in action have little confidence in the Afghan justice system,” the group’s deputy leader Andre Wuestner said in a statement, adding that the government must ensure that justice is carried out.
“They bear the responsibility that every killer of German soldiers who can be captured is brought to justice and punished when sufficient proof is provided.”
Observers and think tanks are critical of the Afghan justice system and consider it a weak link in efforts to rebuild the country and strengthen democracy.