German govt hails seven dead in Afghanistan, ups troop presence

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Dec 30 06:32:25 MST 2002


(excerpt)
BONN, Germany, Dec 29 (AFP) - Germany's president and
ministers of foreign affairs and defense participated
Sunday in a moving memorial service for seven German
peacekeepers who died in a helicopter crash in
Afghanistan a week ago.

The soldiers "gave their lives in service of an
important, just cause," President Johannes Rau said at
a religious ceremony honoring the peacekeepers.

"The fatherland thanks you for services rendered," he
said at the service, attended by the families of the
men, aged between 24 and 53, who served in the
international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan
(ISAF).

German Defense Minister Peter Struck and Foreign
Minister Joschka Fischer also attended the ceremony
held in Bonn.

The soldiers died on December 21, when their Sikorsky
CH-53 helicopter crashed during a routine
reconnaissance flight over the capital Kabul.

Germany currently has 1,280 men in the ISAF, which is
composed of some 4, 600 soldiers from 22 countries and
is charged with assuring security in the Afghan
capital.

Germany is due to bump up its force to 2,500 in
February, when it takes over from Turkey the ISAF
command along with the Netherlands.



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