Germany’s Merkel pays surprise visit to Afghanistan

BERLIN, March 12 — German Chancellor Angela Merkel (picture) paid an unexpected visit to German troops serving in the NATO mission in Afghanistan today, a government spokesman said.

Merkel’s visit of troops based near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan coincides with heightened tensions after an American soldier went on a shooting spree yesterday killing 16 villagers in the south of the country.

Germany is the third largest contributor of troops to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), with over 5,000 soldiers.

Merkel had also hoped to visit German forces at Kundus but bad weather forced her to abandon that plan.

No further details about Merkel’s trip were immediately available. She last visited Afghanistan in 2010. — Reuters