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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 17:36 GMT
German troops 'had WWII symbol'
By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Berlin

German newspaper Bild photo showing a soldier with a skull
Newspapers have published photos of soldiers posing with skulls
A German magazine has published a photograph showing a wartime symbol on a vehicle allegedly used by German troops bound for Afghanistan.

The defence ministry is investigating the photograph, published on Thursday in the weekly magazine Stern.

It follows the recent scandal of photographs of German soldiers posing with human skulls and skeletons.

Six servicemen were suspended over the first case, and a total of 23 are being investigated in connection with it.

At the end of last month, the German government announced a grand new role for the country's military.

It decided that more troops would be sent abroad on peacekeeping missions and Germany would expand its efforts to maintain international security.

New scandal

But the army has been embarrassed and shamed by a stream of photographs in German newspapers.

First were the images of German troops desecrating human remains, taken in Afghanistan.

Now a new photograph in Stern shows a vehicle with a palm tree and an iron cross painted onto it.

The symbol is reminiscent of that used by the German Wehrmacht commander General Erwin Rommel - the "Desert Fox" - in North Africa during World War II.

The defence ministry has promised another investigation.

The recent scandals have sparked a fierce debate in Germany about whether the army here is ready to take on a greater role abroad.

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