France, Germany to pull advisors from Afghanistan

Dirk Niebel. Photo / Getty Images
Dirk Niebel. Photo / Getty Images

France and Germany say they will pull advisors from Afghan institutions after two US members of NATO forces in Kabul were shot dead in ongoing violence triggered by a Koran burning in a US base.

Both nations said the withdrawal of experts and staff from Afghan ministries was prompted by safety concerns after Saturday's slaying of two US advisors at the Afghan interior ministry.

The decision was a "reasonable precautionary measure", German Co-operation Minister Dirk Niebel said, though he stressed Germany would stick to the commitments made in the Afghan conflict.

"As soon as the situation has calmed down the staff will resume their work," he said.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement the measure would be rescinded as soon as "conditions permitted".

The French and German move is similar to steps taken Saturday by NATO and Britain.

President Hamid Karzai issued a statement urging demonstrators and Afghan security forces to exercise restraint following the burning of Korans in a trash burner at Bagram air base.

The government was pressing the US "on the need to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime", he said.

The two American military advisors from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were in the interior ministry when someone turned his weapon against them, NATO said, without giving further details.

NATO, which has a 130,000-strong US-led force fighting an insurgency in Afghanistan, has advisors throughout the Afghan government, but commanding officer General John Allen ordered them all withdrawn after the shooting.

The Netherlands, which has 545 personnel helping train Afghan police, said on Sunday it had temporarily halted its activities because of the security situation.

- AAP

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