Page last updated at 14:51 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 15:51 UK

German troops die in Afghanistan

goat herders in Kunduz province, Afghanistan
The Afghan government's presence in Kunduz province is limited

Three German soldiers have been killed during a clash with insurgents in Afghanistan, the German defence ministry has said.

The soldiers were on a joint operation with Afghan forces when the attack took place near the northern city of Kunduz, a ministry spokesman said.

The German military base in Kunduz is a frequent target of attacks.

Some 3,700 German troops are serving in Afghanistan with Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary recently travelled to the Char Dara district in Kunduz province. He said there was no obvious government presence but he did see plenty of Taliban fighters driving on their motorbikes.

According to the area's Governor, Enginner Omaar, there have been problems in the area because of a lack of police officers.

"We have asked the government for more forces because we underestimated the problem in Kunduz," he told the BBC.

Unpopular operation

In 2008, the deteriorating security situation in northern Afghanistan prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to increase the number of German troops in the country to up to 4,400 by the end of this year.

But the military operation in Afghanistan is unpopular with some people in Germany and is likely to be a campaign issue ahead of general elections in September.

Some 35 German troops have died in the country since 2002.

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