Germany hands over military base to Afghans

BERLIN (AP) — Germany is handing over a key military base in northern Afghanistan to local security forces as part of the gradual pullout of Western forces in the coming years.

According to prepared remarks, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Sunday the Kunduz base some 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Kabul had “shaped the Bundeswehr like hardly any other place.”

Some 20,000 German troops were deployed in Kunduz during a 10-year operation. Twenty of Germany’s 35 combat deaths in Afghanistan occurred in Kunduz province.

For many Germans the base is synonymous with a 2009 NATO airstrike ordered by German forces that killed 91 Afghans and injured 11, most of them civilians. The incident caused a political furor and the resignation of several senior German officials.

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