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Germany Calls for Swift Probe of Afghan Air Strike


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a quick and thorough investigation by NATO into a German-ordered air strike in northern Afghanistan Friday. Local officials say civilians were among those killed.

Ms. Merkel met visiting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Sunday, and also voiced support for a U.N. conference on Afghanistan's future to be held before the end of the year.

The Washington Post newspaper reported Sunday that a German commander in Afghanistan may have violated NATO rules when he ordered the air strike based on intelligence from just one source.

The Post says the German officer received video from an American fighter jet, showing people around two fuel trucks hijacked by the Taliban. An Afghan informant said everyone at the site was an insurgent, and the German officer ordered a satellite-guided bomb dropped on each truck.

According to the newspaper, a NATO fact-finding team estimates that some 125 people were killed in the strike, and that at least 24 of them were not insurgents.

The NATO rules are aimed at reducing civilian casualties and forbid bombing civilian targets based on a sole source of information.

German officials say the order to attack was given because the fuel trucks could be used as weapons in a suicide attack against nearby German troops.

Also Sunday, NATO's international force in Afghanistan said three of its service members - one American, one French and one Dutch - died in separate attacks.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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