German Chancellor Won't 'Tolerate' Criticism of Afghan Bombing

Only three weeks before the German nation goes to the polls, the air strike has sparked a fresh debate on the German military presence and opposition party leaders are calling for the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Left Party, successor to the former East German communist party, is campaigning with the slogan "Get out of Afghanistan" knowing that two thirds of the German voters according to recent polls are against the mission there.

German broadcaster n-tv had people call in today to answer the question, "Should German troops leave Afghanistan?" and 73 percent of the callers said yes, and only 27 percent said no.

German Opposition to Afghan War

Even former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder raised his voice to join the debate, "We need a date for an end to the international engagement in Afghanistan," he said in an interview published by Die Welt.

Schröder, however, was contradicted by his former chief of staff and current Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier who is running for chancellor in the elections on Sept. 27.

Steinmeier told parliament today, "It would be wrong to talk about a date for withdrawal. That would be giving the Taliban a signal as to how long they have to lay low before they could take over power again."

While Merkel was tough with critics of its actions in Kunduz, she was also tough with critics of Germany's involvement in the war.

"The mission in Afghanistan remains necessary as it contributes to global security and as it protects the life and limb of people here in Germany against the evil of terrorism," she said. "Everyone who calls for Germany to step aside from fighting international terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan, should consider that."

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