Wednesday 9 March 2011

Civilian deaths rise, most attributed to Taliban

AGE = Anti-government elements
PGF = Pro-government forces

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan, as recorded by the Afghanistan Human Rights Commission and UNAMA Human Rights rose by 15 per cent in 2010 to 2,777 killed, of which 2,080 (75 per cent) were attributed to insurgents. Their Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts  shows that most of these deaths - 1,141 - were caused by IEDs. But a more worrying trend in 2010 was the massive increase in the number of civilians assassinated by insurgents. This figure reached 462 - up by more than 105 per cent since the previous year.
Half of all assassinations occurred in southern Afghanistan, with Helmand showing a 588 per cent increase in the number of civilians being assassinated and Kandahar an increase of 248 per cent.
The Afghan National Security Forces and international military forces were linked to 440 civilian deaths - about 16 per cent of the total. About 40 per cent of these deaths were due to aerial bombing attacks. The number of civilian killed by pro-government forces has fallen by 26 per cent since 2009.
All regions of the country, apart from the eastern region, saw major increases in the number of civilians killed, compared to 2009. And more women and children were killed and injured than in 2009. Women casualties rose by six per cent and child casualties rose by 21 per cent compared to 2009.
The number of civilians injured increased by 22 per cent in 2010 to a total of 4,343, 78 per cent of which were caused by insurgents.
Approximately 140 suicide attacks took place in 2010, about the same level as the previous year. The report notes that the Taliban's introduction of a code of conduct in May 2010, which includes provisions for reducing civilian casualties, appears to have had no impact at all on Taliban tactics: "The AIHRC and UNAMA Human Rights did not observe any concerted effort by the Taliban to implement these orders or to take action against those commanders or members who disobeyed them. UNAMA Human Rights and the AIHRC also documented numerous indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks in 2010 that resulted in civilian casualties for which the Taliban claimed responsibility."
The publication of this report coincides with the release of figures from ISAF saying that US-led military forces have captured or killed more than 900 Taliban leaders in the past 10 months, and that the insurgency is finding it difficult to replace them. These killings are mostly carried out by special operations units. Presumably many more insurgent foot soldiers have also been killed during the same period. There is presently little information about these killings and so it is difficult to know just how many Taliban fighters are being killed in these operations.

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