Conflict-related civilian deaths in Afghanistan increased by 15 per cent increase in the first six months of 2011, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) which today released its 2011 Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.
UNAMA said the dramatic growth was mainly due to the use of landmine-like pressure plate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by what it calls Anti-Government Elements (AGEs) - ie the Taliban.
UNAMA documented 1,462 civilian deaths in the period, with 80 per cent attributed to AGEs, an increase of 28 percent in civilian deaths linked to AGEs from the same period in 2010. A further 14 per cent of civilian deaths were attributed to Pro-Government Forces (PGF), down nine per cent from the same period in 2010. Six per cent of civilian deaths could not be attributed to any party to the conflict.
With 368 civilian deaths, May 2011 was the deadliest month for Afghan civilians since UNAMA began documenting civilian casualties in 2007. In June 2011, a further 360 civilian deaths were recorded.
June also saw an all-time high in the number of security incidents in a single month and the highest-ever number of IED attacks recorded in a one-month period.
“Afghan children, women and men continue to be killed and injured at an alarming rate,” said Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative for the Secretary General.
IEDs and suicide attacks accounted for 49 per cent of all civilian deaths and injuries in the first six months of 2011. Civilian deaths from IEDs increased 17 per cent over the same period in 2010, making IEDs, with 444 victims, the single largest killer of Afghan civilians in the first half of 2011 and causing 30 per cent of all civilian deaths.
Air strikes remained the leading cause of Afghan civilian deaths by Pro-Government Forces, with an increasing proportion resulting from attacks by helicopters. In the first six months of 2011, 79 Afghan civilians were killed by air strikes, a 14 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2010. Forty-four of the total 79 civilian deaths were from helicopter attacks.
Civilian deaths from ground combat and armed clashes in the first half of 2011 increased by 36 per cent compared to the same period in 2010 while two per cent of all civilian casualties occurred as a result of night raids, down slightly from the first half of 2010. UNAMA documented 30 civilian deaths during night raid operations in the first six months of 2011.
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