Afghan commission: Civilian deaths up in 2010

Aug 8th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Featured

The top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has maintained strict curbs on air power and heavy weapons implemented last year by his predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Those measures have tamped down the number of civilian deaths but have raised complaints from the ranks that they put soldiers’ lives at risk and give an advantage to the Taliban.

Still, a daily drumbeat of violence continues. Three Afghan civilians were killed by insurgent attacks or bombs Saturday, while five NATO service members — three Americans and two Danes — were killed the same day, the military coalition said.

Most of this year’s civilian deaths occurred in the Taliban’s southern heartland with bombs the biggest single killer, the commission said.

Insurgent bombs were responsible for 425 civilian deaths, with more than 200 of them in June and July. Fighting in Afghanistan traditionally increases during summer months.

Another 122 people were killed in suicide attacks and 197 either directly assassinated or caught in the crossfire of assassination attempts, according to the report.

In the first seven months of 2009, 1,252 civilians were killed — 67 percent of them by insurgents and 23 percent by government-allied forces, the group said.

The U.N. is expected to release its own figures on civilian casualties for the first six months of the year in coming days. In all of 2009, at least 2,412 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting, according to the U.N. That was up 14 percent from 2008.

The bodies of the assassinated medical team, which included three women, were returned to Kabul aboard helicopters of the Afghan counternarcotics agency. The families of the six Americans were formally notified of their deaths after U.S. officials confirmed their identities, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the embassy.

Names of most of the foreigners have not been released by officials.

Officials have said the victims included team leader Tom Little, an optometrist from Delmar, New York, who had lived in Afghanistan for about 30 years, and Dr. Karen Woo, who gave up a job in a private clinic in London to do humanitarian work in Afghanistan.

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