Friday, July 20, 2007

Civilian toll

Eliza Szabo of the Center for Defense Information writes on Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan. Excerpts:

Research revealed only two estimates of civilian deaths in the first three months of the war. [New Hampshire University's Marc] Herold's online database counts Afghan civilian casualties reported by the media. He estimates 2,567-2,947 civilians were killed in U.S. aerial bombings between Oct. 7 and Dec. 10, 2001.

Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project for Defense Alternatives, a project that researches security policy and its challenges, estimates anywhere from 1,000 to 1,300 Afghan civilian deaths due to U.S. aerial bombardment between Oct. 7, 2001 and Jan. 10, 2002. Conetta attributes what appears to be a minimum of 3,000 additional civilian deaths to the impact of the conflict on the nation's refugee and famine crises. The Herold and Conetta studies were based exclusively on media reports...

NATO accounts of civilians killed in individual incidents are often inconsistent with estimates from Afghan officials. For example, a NATO spokesman was quoted in a July 2, 2007, New York Times article regarding recent airstrikes in Helmand Province as saying, "we want to make it clear that we at this point believe the numbers [of civilians killed in the incident] are a dozen or less." Afghan officials, however, reported that the strikes resulted in 45 civilian deaths.

Elsewhere in the province, barely three days earlier, Afghan officials reported up to 60 civilians killed in fighting and U.S.-led airstrikes. A NATO spokesman said that the military could not confirm "numbers that large" and issued an often-used statement about enemy fighters willingly endangering civilian lives.

A U.S. government news release acknowledged that some civilians were killed in the attacks but did not include an estimated number...

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