Civilian deaths in Afghanistan soars: Red Cross

July 9th, 2008 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, July 9 (DPA) Up to 250 civilians are reported to have been killed or injured since July 4 by various attacks in Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported Wednesday. “Civilians continue to be killed and wounded in the ongoing hostilities,” Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Kabul, said in a statement.

“We call on all parties to the conflict, in the conduct of their military operations, to distinguish at all times between civilians and fighters and to take constant care to spare civilians,” he said.

“Civilians must never be the target of an attack, unless they take a direct part in the fighting. These fundamental requirements of international humanitarian law, also known as the laws and customs of war, are binding on all parties to an armed conflict,” it added.

The ICRC said it was particularly concerned about the continuing use of indiscriminate attacks, which by their nature strike without distinction. The ICRC said the July 7 suicide attack against the Indian embassy in Kabul which killed 44 people was deplorable.

Of equal concern is the reportedly high number of civilian casualties resulting from recent air strikes in the east of the country. Several injured civilians have undergone surgery at the ICRC-supported Jalalabad Public Hospital, said the statement.

According to the release, the ICRC maintains contacts with all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan - the government forces, ISAF/NATO and US-led Coalition forces, and the armed opposition with a view to reminding them of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Meanwhile, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Wednesday said one of its soldiers died from wounds and three others were injured in a roadside bomb explosion in southern Afghanistan.

The soldiers were on patrol in the southern province of Uruzgan when the explosion happened Tuesday, said a military statement issued from ISAF headquarters in Kabul.

Following procedure, the statement did not mention the nationality of the troops killed and wounded in the incident.

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