Civilian deaths down despite rising attacks in Afghanistan: NATOMay 14th, 2009 - 12:37 am ICT by IANS
Brussels, May 13 (DPA) Civilian casualties in Afghanistan were down 44 percent in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period in 2008, despite a 64 percent rise in insurgency attacks, a NATO report said Wednesday.
However, the security situation remains precarious, with the latest polls showing that 35 percent of Afghans say security has improved over the past six months and a further 13 percent saying it has got worse.
The figures were released by the transatlantic alliance amid reports of a worrying number of suicide bombing attacks targeting both civilian and military targets in the southeastern Khost province that have claimed scores of lives.
The latest such attack took place Wednesday, when seven Afghan workers were killed and 21 were wounded at a US military base in Khost. Six Taliban and two non-combatants were also killed by US soldiers, officials said.
Presenting the figures, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the increase in the number of Taliban attacks between January and April was attributable to a milder winter and increased instability on the Pakistani-Afghan border.
According to NATO, the bulk of the attacks continue to be concentrated in just 12 percent of the Afghan territory.
NATO insists it will stay in Afghanistan until the country is capable of taking care of itself.
To date, 50 out of 79 Afghan battalions are capable of conducting security operations without the assistance of international forces, Appathurai said.
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