Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose 40 percent in 2008

February 17th, 2009 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, Feb 17 (DPA) The UN said Tuesday that Afghan civilian deaths rose by 40 percent last year, to 2,118, the highest toll in the country since the fall of Taliban regime in late 2001.
Taliban insurgents were responsible for 55 percent, or 1,160, of the overall death toll while Afghan and international forces killed 828 civilians, or 39 percent, the UN said in its annual report.

The deaths of 130 other civilians, six percent of the total, could not be clearly attributed to either side of the conflict.

The number of civilians killed by insurgents rose from 700 in 2007 to 1,160 in 2008, an increase of more than 65 percent, while the civilian death toll caused by NATO, US or Afghan troops rose by 31 percent, from 629 in 2007, the report said.

Airstrikes conducted by US and NATO forces were responsible for 552 deaths, the largest percentage of civilian casualties attributed to pro-government forces, while roadside and suicide attacks were reported to be the deadliest rebel tactics, it said.

Civilian casualties have become a delicate issue for the Afghan government. The mounting death tolls from the US and NATO operations have created a rift between the alliance and President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai last week publicly acknowledged tensions between him and new US administration of President Barack Obama because of his repeated demands from the allied forces to avoid civilian deaths.

More than 1,500 civilians were among 8,000 people killed in the Afghanistan war in 2007.

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