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German Spy Chief Steps Down, No Reason Given

FILE - President of the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) Gerhard Schindler stands at the former monitoring base of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Bad Aibling, south of Munich, June 6, 2014. Gerhard Schindler is stepping down two years early and is replaced by Finance Ministry official Bruno Kahl.

The head of Germany's intelligence agency is stepping down two years early, with no reason given for the sudden departure.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's office announced the replacement of Gerhard Schindler with Finance Ministry official Bruno Kahl.

Merkel's chief of staff Peter Altmaier said Wednesday the agency known as BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) faces "major challenges" during the coming years, including the evolution of its mission in light of the changing security environment.

He also noted the agency is dealing with the legal consequences of a parliamentary investigation, after revelations BND had cooperated with the U.S. National Security Agency in spying on European allies.

European intelligence agencies are also under scrutiny following two major terrorist attacks in the past six months, Brussels on March 22, and Paris on November 13.