Monday, May 12, 2008

How many civilians have we killed?

The BBC reports:

Taleban 'killing more civilians'
By Martin Patience

KABUL, May 5 (BBC) - The rate of Afghan civilians killed in Taleban attacks this year has increased compared to 12 months ago, Nato-led forces and local organisations say.

However, Nato's claim that the number of civilians killed by its forces has reduced has been disputed.

Senior officials in the Nato-led force say that 240 civilians were killed in Taleban attacks from January to mid-April this year.

That is a six-fold increase on the same period in 2007.

The officials said most of these deaths were from Taleban suicide bomb attacks aimed at international forces.

They also said that there had been a dramatic reduction in the number of civilians killed by Nato troops, dropping from 31 to four this year.

But these figures were disputed by local organisations.

One group which monitors security and advises aid workers said that at least 60 civilians had been killed by international troops this year.

The American-led coalition, which operates outside Nato's remit, says that it does not keep a tally on civilian casualties... (link)
Note that, if accurate, the NGO estimate represents a doubling of the rate civilians killed by our forces in 2008 as compared to 2007. As for what the numbers actually were last year, there are varying estimates, with some of the more reliable sources giving the highest estimates. Though the figures are rarely reported in the Western media, the UN news agency IRIN cited an Afghan government report and figures from the UN's Afghanistan mission (UNAMA) that showed over 1400 Afghan civilians had been killed between January and mid-August 2007. As for who was to blame, IRIN noted that "civilian deaths in military operations conducted by international forces - particularly US troops operating outside NATO writ - and their Afghan allies have roughly balanced that of the Taliban."

Finally, the conservative Washington Times, February 5, 2008:
The number of civilians inadvertently killed by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan doubled in 2007 from the previous year as coalition forces dropped about a million pounds of bombs on the country... (link)

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