Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taliban 38% more murderous than we are

With all the makings of a macabre sweepstakes, the UN has released its figures on civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The numbers are sobering.

It turns out that, while the Taliban are almost twice as murderous this year than last, our side has so far killed 27% more civilians than last year.

All this despite the fact that we have been on good behaviour for a year. Readers may recall that last year US officials agreed to change their military operating procedures in an effort to reduce civilian casualties. The move followed a UN report last year which determined that US/NATO and Afghan forces had killed more civilians than had anti-government insurgents.

That revelation prompted the Washington Post to ask "why on Earth are the NATO and U.S. forces and their Afghan allies killing more civilians than the Taliban?"

UN: 1,445 Afghan civilians killed in 2008 violence

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The United Nations said Tuesday that 1,445 Afghan civilians have been killed so far this year in attacks by insurgents or U.S.- and NATO-led forces — a 40 percent increase over 2007.

Exactly 800 of the deaths, or 55 percent, were caused by Taliban fighters and other insurgents, the U.N. report said. It said that was almost double the 462 civilian deaths attributed to anti-government fighters in the first seven months of last year.

U.S., NATO and Afghan troops killed 577 civilians, or 40 percent, including 395 deaths caused by airstrikes, the report said. That was up 1 percent from the 477 deaths that the U.N. said were inflicted by pro-government forces in 2007.

An additional 68 civilians died in crossfire or other incidents for which U.N. officials couldn't determine responsibility, the report said...

Not only civilian deaths are up. The killing of two American soldiers Thursday raised the number of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan this year to at least 113, surpassing the previous yearly high of 111 recorded in 2007...

The U.N. said 330 civilians died in August alone.

"This is the highest number of civilian deaths to occur in a single month since the end of major hostilities and the ousting of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001," U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said in a statement...

Many of the Afghans killed were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, when insurgent suicide bombers detonated their explosives or when roadside bombs went off in trying to attack military targets.

But the U.N. also said militants are increasingly targeting Afghans that the insurgents suspect of working with Karzai's government or international military forces. It counted 142 summary executions conducted by the Taliban and their allies...

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, meanwhile, said Tuesday that militants had killed 720 police officers over the last six months. In all of 2007, militants killed about 925 police — meaning the pace of attacks this year has increased...

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