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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 02:32 GMT 03:32 UK
European press review
European Press

The German press is up in arms after revelations that an elite commando unit serving in Afghanistan had contact there with a former US detainee who claims he was mistreated by the troops.

Elsewhere, newspapers argue that it is becoming ever clearer that the US and Britain must find a way to extricate themselves from Iraq.

Kurnaz affair

The German Defence Ministry has caused outrage by acknowledging that soldiers of the KSK special operations unit had "verbal" contact with former Guantanamo detainee Murat Kurnaz in Afghanistan.

While officials deny the German-born Turkish national's claims that the German soldiers physically abused him, the newspaper Die Welt says it is scandalous that that the events of 2001 are only coming to light now.

"Apparently the government did not know exactly what its elite soldiers were doing in Afghanistan," the paper says, "and parliament - and this is the real scandal - was to all intents and purposes not informed at all."

It warns the government not to forget that the armed forces are not a "secret army".

"This means that the lower house must be told about the army's missions - comprehensively," the paper says.

Mr Kurnaz's allegations of abuse are "very serious" and must be thoroughly investigated, according to the liberal Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

"Only comprehensive elucidation can avert damage to the armed forces and lift the suspicion that the KSK abused the trust of parliament and the public," the paper says.

It argues that while it is legitimate for the special operations unit to operate secretly, it must be subjected to checks and the rule of law.

The liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau agrees. It says the public be told why "nobody was interested in the unlawful violent conditions in which Kurnaz found himself".

The Berliner Zeitung accuses both the current government and its predecessor under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of disguising the extent of Germany's involvement in the war on terror.

"Once again the former government has been found to have lied," the paper says, adding that both governments have "spun a whole web of lies" about the involvement of German soldiers and secret agents in the war on terror.

Exit strategy

Amid signs of growing violence in Iraq, an editorial in the left-leaning French daily Liberation asks: "Where's the exit?"

"George Bush and Tony Blair are asking themselves the same question: How can they limit the damage and withdraw in the not too distant future from the quagmire of Iraq?" the paper says.

The US is beginning to show "a nervousness that reflects the lack of strategic perspective of the world's premier power", according to the daily.

The Serbian newspaper Blic agrees, arguing that Mr Bush and Mr Blair are now isolated in their insistence that the troops must stay in Iraq "until the job is done".

"Their dream of introducing democracy to the Tigris and Euphrates valley is shattered," the paper opines, "Pressure is mounting on Bush and Blair to come to terms with a new, much more realistic strategy: withdrawal from Iraq."

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.





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