Afghan civilian casualties jump 23 percent in 2013: UN report


An elderly Afghan woman looks through the window of her house after a clash between Afghanistan forces and Taliban fighters in Kabul on Jan. 21, 2013. As the US and allies focus on fighting in the countryside, parts of the Afghan capital have slipped unnoticed into lawlessness.


Shah Marai

There has been a 23 percent increase in the number of civilian dead and wounded in Afghanistan in the first half of 2013, the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported.

The group counted 1,319 civilian dead and 2,533 wounded from January to June.

UNAMA said 74 percent of the deaths are a result of the insurgents retaking lost territory as the US-led international coalition withdraws from Afghanistan.

The number of civilians injured or killed in crossfire or by improvised explosive devices has increased as Afghan forces battle insurgents, UNAMA said. "Efforts by antigovernment elements to assert territorial influence in contested areas led to increased ground engagement between antigovernment and pro-government forces,” the report said.

The Taliban responded to the report in a written statement sent to media organizations. The UN had incorrectly counted civilian deaths, the Taliban said, by improperly including Afghan government officials, police and intelligence workers in the civilian casualty numbers.

"The incidents claimed by us are all the losses of our enemy and calling them civilians is UNAMA's own judgment which is used for making the report more acceptable for Americans," the statement said.

The Taliban statement also claimed it had not targeted civilians in "a single incident."

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