German soldiers wound five in Afghanistan

Kabul, AfghanistanBerlin - German troops in Afghanistan opened fire on a vehicle which failed to stop at a checkpoint, wounding five of the occupants, the defence ministry said Monday.

A spokesman said the incident occurred on Friday evening on a main road near the northern city of Kunduz.

The troops, serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), first fired warning shots at the minibus, the spokesman said.

When the driver continued to approach the checkpoint at high speed, the soldiers opened fire with sub-machine guns, hitting the vehicle's engine, the spokesman said.

Five men were wounded, among them two who suffered serious injuries that required treatment at the German base in Mazar-i-Sharif. A search of the vehicle failed to turn up any arms.

The incident happened a week after two German soldiers and five children were killed in a suicide attack near Kunduz.

The people in the minibus were civilians taking the body of a relative from Kabul to the northeast province of Badahkshan for burial, a local police official said.

They were in a hurry and driving at high-speed when the soldiers opened fire, said Abdul Rahman Aktash, deputy police chief of Kunduz province.

In August, a German soldier accidentally shot dead an Afghan woman and two children at a checkpoint.

The security situation around Kunduz, where most of Germany's 3,500-strong ISAF contingent is based, has deteriorated in recent months.

This year more than 250 soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan, more than in any year since the international military operation was launched in 2001.

Some 30 Germans serving with ISAF have been killed. (dpa)