Monday, January 26, 2009

Report: Afghan Unrest Killed 4,000 Civilians in 2008


t r u t h o u t | 01.22


Report: Afghan Unrest Killed 4,000 Civilians in 2008

Wednesday 21 January 2009


by: Agence France-Presse


    Nearly 4,000 Afghan civilians were killed in insurgency-linked unrest in Afghanistan last year, more than two-thirds in rebel attacks and about 1,100 by foreign forces, a rights group said Tuesday.


    The figures released by an independent Kabul-based group called Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) are far higher than those from the United Nations and international military forces.


    They were based on information from locals, officials and elders across the country which was then verified in Kabul, ARM researcher and analyst Ajmal Samadi told AFP.


    The report, entitled "The Plight of Afghan Civilians" says 3,917 civilians were killed, more than 6,800 were wounded and around 120,000 were forced out of their homes in 2008.


    More than 2,300 were killed in insurgent attacks, including 930 in suicide bombings, with the rebels also using "appalling" killing methods such as public executions and beheadings, ARM said.


    The aim was to "spread terror among communities and establish a means of control," the report said.


    "US-led NATO and coalition forces also failed to ensure adequate safety and security for civilians in their counter-insurgency operations," the watchdog said.


    "Military operations conducted by these forces in 2008 caused at least 1,100 civilian deaths, 2,800 injuries and displaced from their homes around 80,000 people," the report said.


    Around 680 died in air strikes by US-led forces, it said, adding that US combat aircraft conducted at least 15,000 close air support missions over the year.


    Afghan forces had meanwhile killed around 520 civilians, the report said.


    It also released figures for Afghan security forces killed over the year: more than 1,100 police and 530 Afghan soldiers lost their lives, it said, citing sources in the Afghan government.


    The United Nations has much lower figures for civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict, saying roughly 2,000 civilians were killed in 2008, more than half of them in insurgent attacks and the remainder in military action.


    Samadi said the UN's research was hobbled by its lack of access to all parts of the country because of poor security.


    NATO's International Security Assistance Force has said meanwhile that just over 200 civilians were mistakenly killed by foreign troops last year.


    Rights groups and officials have warned that mounting civilian casualties in the effort to help Afghanistan fight an extremist insurgency threatens public support for the government and the presence of international troops.


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