BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will now deport to Afghanistan only criminals and people it considers a threat, after a bombing in the Afghan capitol of Kabul killed at least 80 people, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.
Merkel's government began mass deportations of Afghans in December, after taking in more than a million refugees since the summer of 2015. Human rights groups objected, saying the Afghans were being sent back to a dangerous country.
That argument gained strength after a truck bomb blew up in the diplomatic quarter of Kabul on Wednesday. Among the roughly 350 injured were two German embassy employees. An Afghan security guard at the embassy was killed and the embassy itself was badly damaged.
Merkel said deportations would now be considered case by case. Criminals and those deemed a threat - including people who refuse to reveal their identity - would be sent back. People who want to return to Afghanistan of their own free will be allowed to return.
"The (foreign and interior) ministers aim to submit this new assessment by July at the latest," Merkel told reporters.
Some 3,300 Afghans returned of their own volition last year. Sixty-seven people were deported to Afghanistan last year and more than 100 have been deported so far this year.
Reporting by Thorsten Severin and Reuters TV; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Larry King