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Germany suspends two soldiers over skull photos

Written by: Staff
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BERLIN, Oct 27 (Reuters) Germany has suspended two soldiers for their part in the desecration of human skulls in Afghanistan, the Defence Ministry said today.

''They will no longer be a part of the German army,'' Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said in Berlin.

Images of soldiers in Afghanistan striking a variety of poses with skulls were published on Wednesday and yesterday in Germany, sparking condemnation from politicians and NATO, as well as igniting fears the army could suffer as a result.

Some of the pictures were reportedly from 2003, others from a year later. The Defence Ministry said the two soldiers suspended were involved in the images taken in 2003.

The ministry has said it has investigated a total of nine suspects, a number of whom are no longer in the army.

Yesterday Germany warned its embassies to tighten security measures due to concerns the photos, which were condemned by Chancellor Angela Merkel, could harm its army's image abroad.

The images emerged as the government unveiled a new long-term national security policy which sees an increasingly important role for the Bundeswehr outside Germany.

But as the German armed forces make a bigger commitment to peace-keeping in trouble spots like Afghanistan and Congo, fears have arisen troops could now be exposed to greater dangers.

REUTERS PDM RN1551

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