NATO launched an airstrike in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, where the Taliban have been gaining strength despite a series of Afghan and German operations designed to reestablish control. The strike is controversial: scores of Taliban fighters and civilians are reported to have been killed after NATO aircraft bombed two hijacked fuel tankers that stalled in the mud of a riverbed. The Taliban reportedly urged civilians to take fuel from the tankers.
The Germans, on the other hand, claimed no civilians were killed in the attack, just Taliban fighters. The Germans are in charge of Kunduz and ordered the airstrikes. It is unclear if German strike fighters bombed the tankers. But no mater what happened, the event will create controversy in Germany, where support for the war has dropped into the low thirties. The opposition to Chancellor Merkel's government is already taking advantage of the bombings as elections are only one month away.
Today's strike in Kunduz will leave plenty of questions, and the Taliban are going to reap the benefits of being quick on their feet in their propaganda campaign. NATO/ISAF, on the other hand, will be cautious and hesitant to speak definitively on what happened until all the facts are in. No matter what really happened in Kunduz, the Taliban will score a propaganda victory and may even bring the Germans one step closer to withdrawal.