German consulate attacked in Afghanistan

German consulate attacked in AfghanistanTaliban militants stormed the German consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, ramming its outer wall with a truck bomb before battling security forces in a late-night attack that killed at least four people, Reuters reported.

The explosion, triggered by a suicide bomber, caused extensive damage to the building and shattered windows as far as 5 km away, a NATO spokesman said. A local doctor said the blast and subsequent firefight also wounded 120 people.

No consular staff were among the victims, but Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany would review its lead role in the international mission in northern Afghanistan, where violence has escalated sharply during 2016.

The Taliban said the attack was in retaliation for NATO air strikes against a village near the northern city of Kunduz last week in which more than 30 people, many of them children, were killed.

Heavily armed fighters, including suicide bombers, had been sent "with a mission to destroy the German consulate general and kill whoever they found there", the Islamist militant movement's spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said by telephone.

The NATO spokesman said at least one vehicle packed with explosives was rammed into the high outer wall surrounding the consulate, but authorities were investigating if a second car had been involved.

"The extent of damage to the city is huge," said Abdul Razaq Qaderi, deputy police chief of Balkh province.

"This kind of an attack, bringing a truck full of explosives and blowing it up in the city, had never happened before. The city is still recovering from the shock," he added.

Noor Mohammad Faiz, the head doctor in Mazar-i-Sharif hospital, said four bodies and 120 wounded, most hurt by flying glass, had been brought to the hospital.

Qaderi said German troops had shot two men on motorcycles who did not comply with orders to stop. German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that incident was being investigated.
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