German army 'depicted blacks as target practice'

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The Independent Online

A German army instructor has been shown on television ordering a soldier to fire his machine gun while imagining he was in the Bronx facing hostile African Americans.

In New York, the Bronx borough president demanded an apology from the German military and said the clip on German television "indicates that bias and assumptions and racism is alive and well around the world".

Coming after scandals involving photos of German soldiers posing with skulls in Afghanistan and the abuse of recruits by instructors, the video seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in Germany's conscript army.

The Defence Ministry said the video was shot in July 2006 at barracks in the northern town of Rendsburg and that the army had been aware of it since January.

"We are currently investigating the incident," an army spokesman said.

The clip shows an instructor and a soldier in camouflage uniforms in a forest. The instructor tells the soldier: "You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother ... act."

The soldier fires his machine gun several times and yells an obscenity several times in English.

The Bronx borough president, Adolfo Carrion Jnr, said whoever was responsible for the video should be disciplined. "We need to put to rest the prejudices and the hate that is allowed ... to be perpetuated so easily and cheaply," Mr Carrion said.

The Rev Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, said he was outraged that Germans were "depicting blacks as target practice".

"I think this is an incredibly racist kind of insult to African Americans and it speaks to the kind of institutional racism that people think we are hallucinating about," he said.