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Angela Merkel in surprise visit to Afghanistan amid rising tensions

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Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, arrives at the German base in Masar-i-Sharif . Photo: Getty Images

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, arrives at the German base in Masar-i-Sharif . Photo: Getty Images

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, arrives at the German base in Masar-i-Sharif . Photo: Getty Images

ANGELA Merkel, the German Chancellor, arrived in Afghanistan for a surprise visit on Monday, with tensions running high a day after a US soldier went on a rampage, killing 16 villagers.

Merkel was to visit troops stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of the country, a spokesman said in Berlin.



As her visit was announced, the Taliban vowed revenge against "sick-minded American savages" for the killing of 16 villagers including women and children in their homes in the province of Kandahar on Sunday.



Germany, and several other Nato member states pulled their advisers from Afghan institutions after two members of the international force in Afghanistan were shot dead in violence over the Koran incident.



Merkel last visited Afghanistan in December 2010, to meet German soldiers just before Christmas. On that occasion she described the fighting there for the first time as "war".



Germany is the third biggest supplier of troops to the 130,000-strong Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) after the United States and Britain.



It had 4,900 soldiers in Afghanistan as of February 1, but a further 500 are to be withdrawn by 2013 before a complete pullout planned by 2014