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Afghan civilian casualties skyrocket

  |   July 31, 2013 at 9:33 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, July 31 (UPI) -- More than 70 percent of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan during the first six months of 2013 were attributed to insurgents, the U.N. mission said.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said Wednesday civilian casualties during the first six months of 2013 were 23 percent higher than the same time last year. UNAMA's midyear report said 74 percent of those casualties were attributed to armed insurgents.

"The violent impact of the conflict on Afghan civilians marked by the return of rising civilian casualties in 2013 demands even greater commitment and further efforts by parties to the conflict to better protect civilians who are increasingly being killed and injured in the cross-fire," U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan Jan Kubis said in a statement.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said Wednesday nearly all of the insurgent activity in Afghanistan was attributed to the Taliban. UNAMA said the majority of the casualties were from improvised explosive devices, which killed 443 people during the reporting period.

NATO this year announced Afghan security forces were in charge of day-to-day operations in the country. U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Peter Lavoy said Tuesday national forces were doing "a very good job" in securing the country.

International forces are expected to end their combat obligations in Afghanistan in 2014. NATO forces said they're committed to maintaining an advisory role for their Afghan counterparts.

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