The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released a report (pdf) today showing that civilian casualties there are up by 40% over this time last year. The majority of these deaths are the result of the Taliban’s campaign to intimidate civilian populations, but some are the result of errant U.S airstrikes.
The United Nations report, compiled by a human rights unit, said the death toll among civilians rose from 1,523 in 2007 to 2,118 in 2008, most of them in the south of the country where fighting is generally at its most intense.
The insurgents were blamed for 1,160 deaths — an increase of 65 per cent over similar attacks in 2007, the report said.
“2008 saw a distinct pattern of attacks by the armed opposition in crowded residential and other such areas with apparent disregard for the extensive damage they can cause to civilians,” a summary of the report said.
The report also took issues with “an intimidation campaign that includes the summary execution of individuals perceived to be associated with, or supportive of the government and its allies.”
The report said 828 deaths — or 39 percent of the total — were caused by pro-government forces, an increase of almost a third over the 2007 level.
“Air strikes remain responsible for the largest percentage of civilian deaths attributed to pro-government forces,” the report said, killing 552 civilians in 2008, two-thirds of the total number of civilians killed by pro-government forces.