Afghan, foreign forces killed 200 civilians this year: UN

May 15th, 2008 - 10:22 pm ICT by admin  

Kabul, May 15 (DPA) A UN Human Rights Council official said Thursday that Afghan and international forces in the country have killed at least 200 civilians during their operations this year, while in some incidents foreign intelligence services were also responsible for such deaths. Special Rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council Philip Alston said at a press conference in Kabul that about 200 Afghan civilians were killed in operations conducted by the Afghan and international forces in the first four months of this year.

He said that most of the civilian deaths were caused by airstrikes by foreign forces in the country, while in some incidents “international intelligence service” agents, who are accompanied by Afghan forces, were responsible for the killings.

Alston said there were also several operations that resulted in civilian casualties, but neither the NATO-led forces, which have some 50,000 troops in the country, nor the US-led coalition forces that command some 20,000 troops, were ready to take responsibility for those actions.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for the heavily-armed internationals accompanied by heavily-armed Afghan forces to be wandering around conducting dangerous raids that too often result in killings without anyone taking responsibility for them,” he said.

Alston also said that another 300 civilians were killed by Taliban and their associate groups so far this year, with three quarters of them during suicide attacks.

According to estimates provided by Afghan and international military sources, more than 1,000 people - mostly insurgents - were killed in the violence this year. In 2007, the bloodiest year since the ouster of Taliban regime some six years ago, more than 8,000 people - mostly insurgents but including 1,500 civilians - were killed.

In the latest suicide attack Thursday, four policemen and 12 civilians were killed in a suicide attack in southwestern Farah province.

“In the absence of urgent action by all parties, the months and years ahead will see many more civilians killed unlawfully,” Alston warned, adding, “Afghanistan is enveloped in an armed conflict. But that does not mean that large numbers of avoidable killings of civilians must be tolerated.”

“Ending unlawful killings by the police should be a priority,” Alston said in his recommendation to the Afghan government and international military officials in Afghanistan.

“The international forces present in Afghanistan should respect the principles of accountability and transparency.”

He said that he would submit his full report to the UN in a couple of months.

Civilian casualties during the NATO and coalition forces have become a matter of great concern for the Western-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government.

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