Germany's defense minister says a senior official supported an arms manufacturer's bid to get the country's military intelligence service to probe leaks concerning the alleged shortcomings of its assault rifle — a weapon that she has since ordered replaced.

Ursula von der Leyen's statement Thursday comes amid opposition calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the government's handling of problems with the G-36 rifle. It follows reports by Der Spiegel and Stern magazines that manufacturer Heckler & Koch and a senior ministry official sought to have the intelligence agency take action against the leaks.

Von der Leyen said it was "very strange" that Heckler & Koch approached the agency in 2013 and "completely unacceptable" that the senior official backed the initiative, which the intelligence agency rebuffed. He has since been removed.