Civilian deaths rise 24%
Civilian deaths in the escalating Afghan war soared by 24 percent during the first half of 2009 compared with the same period last year, the United Nations said Friday, blaming most of the casualties on Taliban attacks launched with little regard for civilian lives.
The report by the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan said the number of civilians killed by the Taliban and other "antigovernment forces" during the first half of the year was double those attributed to the U.S.-led coalition and Afghan government forces. The United Nations termed that a "significant shift" from 2007, when the coalition was responsible for 41 percent of civilian deaths.
According to the United Nations, at least 1,013 civilians were killed in the first six months of this year, compared with 818 for the same period in 2008. Of those, 595 died as a result of Taliban attacks. International and Afghan government forces killed 310 civilians. The 108 other civilian deaths could not be attributed to either side, the report said.