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Afghanistan violence reports don't add up

KABUL, Afghanistan — Let the battle of the war stats begin.

The U.S.-led coalition on Thursday released estimates of the violence in Afghanistan that painted a picture of improving security this summer, particularly in areas of the south where NATO has concentrated the bulk of its troops. The number of enemy-initiated attacks dropped 17 percent across the country from June to August compared with the same period last year, according to the NATO figures.

The data stand in contrast to a bleaker assessment released by the United Nations this week. The U.N. report said the average monthly number of security incidents, such as gunbattles and roadside bombings, was 39 percent higher through August this year compared with the same period last year. In those eight months, the coalition noted a 2 percent drop in enemy attacks over last year.

The United Nations also reported that the number of civilians killed and wounded was 15 percent higher in the first half of this year than the same period last year.

The two batches of statistics represent strands of the competing narratives this summer in Afghanistan. The U.S. military has tended to be more optimistic that military progress was turning the tide against the Taliban, while the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and Afghan officials have been more pessimistic about the state of the decadelong conflict.

The statistics in the two reports were difficult to compare directly because, according to a NATO spokesman, German Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, the coalition does not count some of the things that the United Nations tallies.

BOMBING KILLS THREE SOLDIERS: On Thursday the U.S.-led coalition said that three NATO soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan.

Afghanistan violence reports don't add up 09/29/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:44pm]
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