BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany deported eight Afghans with criminal records after their applications for asylum were rejected, said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
It was the first collective deportation to Afghanistan since an attack in Kabul on May 31 that killed and injured hundreds and damaged German embassy buildings.
At that time the German government cancelled a flight that was due to return a group of failed Afghan asylum seekers after criticism from rights activists that Berlin was sending people to a dangerous country.
Germany had begun mass deportations of Afghans in December in an effort to show it was tackling high migrant numbers by cracking down on those who failed to qualify as refugees.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has made clear that Germany deports to Afghanistan only criminals and people it considers a threat.
The eight male asylum seekers who landed in Kabul on Wednesday morning and were received by Afghan authorities had all committed serious offences, said de Maiziere.
Some 3,300 Afghans returned home of their own volition last year. Germany deported 67 people to Afghanistan last year and more than 100 have been sent back so far this year.
Reporting By Riham Alkousaa; editing by John Stonestreet