UN: Afghan civilian war deaths hit record level

By REUTERS
July 14, 2011 09:44
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KABUL - The first half of this year was the deadliest six months for civilians in Afghanistan since the decade-old war began, the country's UN mission said on Thursday.

Civilian deaths hit a record high, up 15 percent on the first half of 2010, due to roadside and suicide bombings, increased ground fighting and more deadly air strikes.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said 1,462 civilians had been killed in conflict-related incidents. It blamed insurgents for 80 percent of those deaths, up nearly a third on the same period last year.

"The rising tide of violence and bloodshed in the first half of 2011 brought injury and death to Afghan civilians at levels without recorded precedent in the current armed conflict," the report said, adding that plans to hand over security in parts of the country helped fuel the rise in casualties.

"Violence rose as (insurgents) sought to demonstrate that Afghan security forces could not manage security on their own," the report said.

Pro-government forces, including the Afghan police and army and NATO-led troops were responsible for 14 percent of civilian deaths, a drop of 9 percent. But air strikes, one of the most controversial tactics in the war, killed more people.

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