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German opposition urges probe into reports army contributed to NATO 'hit list' in Afghanistan

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BERLIN — German opposition lawmakers called Tuesday for an investigation into reports that the country's army and foreign intelligence agency contributed to a NATO list of Taliban targets in Afghanistan, some of whom were killed.

Citing NATO documents, German newspapers Der Spiegel and Bild have reported that Germany was among the countries that added names of insurgents to the alliance's Joint Prioritized Effects List, or JPEL.

Germany had the third-largest contingent of troops participating in NATO's International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan, which ended this year. Its participation in the mission was questioned by many in Germany, partly because it was seen as a return to the country's militaristic past.

Jan van Aken, a lawmaker for the Left Party, called for a "comprehensive investigation" into whether information provided by the army or the foreign intelligence agency, BND, was used to kill specific individuals without trial.

"There needs to be swift clarity on whether the German army or the BND participated in targeted killings as part of the ISAF mission," Green Party lawmaker Agnieszka Brugger said.

PHOTO: FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2009 file photo a German ISAF soldier passes children on a donkey during a patrol outside Feyzabad, east of Kunduz, Afghanistan. German media are reporting that the country's army contributed to a list of insurgents targeted for killing or detention by NATO in Afghanistan. Opposition lawmakers called Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, for an investigation into the reports, saying they contradicted government's assurances that German forces weren't involved in so-called targeted killings. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2009 file photo a German ISAF soldier passes children on a donkey during a patrol outside Feyzabad, east of Kunduz, Afghanistan. German media are reporting that the country's army contributed to a list of insurgents targeted for killing or detention by NATO in Afghanistan. Opposition lawmakers called Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, for an investigation into the reports, saying they contradicted government's assurances that German forces weren't involved in so-called targeted killings. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File)

An army spokesman said that while information collected by German forces in Afghanistan was included in the JPEL, insurgents nominated by Germany were marked for detention only.

"In those operations where German troops had the responsibility for the use of military force, this occurred solely with the aim of detaining the person in question," Lt. Col. Markus Beck told The Associated Press. Asked about a Bild report quoting a German commander calling for an insurgent to be detained or "neutralized," he said that NATO defines the latter term to mean that a target is rendered "ineffective or unusable for a temporary period," not killed.

But Beck added that other NATO members may have drawn on the list, containing more than 650 names, when conducting their own missions.

"It can't be excluded that operations against target persons in Afghanistan that didn't take place within the ISAF command structure used information provided to ISAF," he said.

A security official confirmed that the BND provided information relating to Afghanistan to friendly intelligence agencies, but only on condition that it wasn't used for torture, regular law enforcement purposes or to justify death sentences. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of her work, said the information could only be used to justify the use of force if the target posed an imminent threat.


Anonymized JPEL document published by Der Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/media/media-35508.pdf

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