(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; issued October 12, 2009)
German military pistols are being sold on the black market in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The weapons were sent in 2006 and were intended for local police and army personnel.
Arms dealers in the region told German public radio that hundreds of German weapons were for sale carrying a price tag of over 680 euros a piece ($1,000).
In 2006, the German Defense Ministry shipped 10,000 old Walther-P1 pistols to the Afghan Interior Ministry to equip Afghan police and army. However, both the German government and the responsible US-led security team in Afghanistan reportedly failed to properly monitor the guns' whereabouts.
The US unit said that it only had detailed records of 4,563 pistols out of a total 10,000.
Current and former Afghan soldiers and police officers are said to be among those illegally selling and trafficking the pistols, some of which have ended up in Pakistan's north-west border provinces and neighboring tribal areas.
The German guns were also being traded in northern Afghanistan where German soldiers are stationed.
The team of NDR radio reporters who discovered the black market guns said it's not clear exactly how they ended up there.
"Apparently, most of these pistols haven't been stolen, but were simply taken home and sold by former police officers and soldiers after they'd left the service," said Christoph Heinzle, who headed the NDR team. "But corruption and theft cannot be ruled out because neither the Afghan authorities nor the US and German armed forces carry out effective controls to prevent [theft]."
Greens, police union call for investigation
The 2006 delivery was carried out despite a German government principle that German weapons could not be supplied to non-NATO countries. Germany's then coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens made an exception, but the decision reportedly only reached parliament after the weapons had already arrived in Afghanistan.
The fresh allegations have prompted calls for an investigation by Germany's Green Party and the Police Trade Union.
Green Party spokesman Winfried Nachtwei accused the grand coalition government, which was in power when the guns were shipped, of a "grossly negligent course of action," and called for the matter to be investigated in the interest of German security forces and civilian experts sent to Afghanistan. "It would be truly absurd if soldiers were threatened by weapons irresponsibly delivered by Germany," Nachtwei said.
Joerg Radek of the Police Union said the danger was that "such weapons could fall into the wrong hands. It is a risk for the Germans deployed there, a risk to security in the country."
Defense Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe told reporters in Berlin on Monday that officials in Kabul had guaranteed the weapons would only be distributed among security forces. He said the ministry would be investigating any unlawful sales of the guns.
"Of course we'll be looking for evidence of any wrongdoing, but I want to underscore that the Afghan government is independent in its decision-making and that we'll continue to support its efforts to build up effective security forces."