Figures from the United Nations for the numbers of Afghan civilians killed and injured show that, in contrast to the figures issued by the US military, they rose for the fifth consecutive year in a row. Although not directly comparable, the UN figures show that 3,021 civilian deaths in 2011 compared with 2,790 in 2010 and 2,412 in 2009.
Over the past five years, the number of Afghan civilians killed in the armed conflict in Afghanistan has increased each year, with a total of 11,864 civilian lives claimed by the conflict since 2007.
In contrast, the figures issued a week ago by the US Congressional Research Service and listed below, give lower figures for civilian deaths in Afghanistan; between January and November 2011, the CRS says 2,262 Afghan civilians were killed and 3,032 were injured. The same figures showed that in the same period 239 members of the Afghan National Army were killed (239 wounded) and 522 police (483 wounded). All these figures were lower than for the previous two years at least.
However, the UN figures, which are generally regarded as more accurate, go on to show that anti-government elements (AGE) caused the most civilian deaths - around 2,332 (77 per cent of all civilian deaths and up 14 per cent on 2010). In addition 410 deaths were caused by pro-Government forces and a further 279 deaths could not be attributed to any particular party in the conflict.
The increase in the number of civilians killed by AGEs is due to the more frequent use of IEDs and of suicide bombers; 967 civilians died as a result of IEDs, which is a third of all civilian deaths; 450 people died as a result of suicide attacks, up 80 per cent on the previous year, even though the number of such attacks did not increase.
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