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ICRC warns of growing threat to civilians

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 2 (UPI) -- A top official from the International Committee of the Red Cross said the escalating insurgency in Afghanistan is increasingly threatening civilians.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, ICRC director of operations, conducted a six-day tour through Afghanistan to see firsthand the conditions on the ground for the civilian population.

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Krahenbuhl met with top military officials including U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and with representatives of the armed opposition including the Taliban to raise concerns about the threat to civilian populations, the ICRC reported.

Krahenbuhl said civilians are under immense stress and face increasing dangers as the insurgency continues to grow.

"For the past three years, the ICRC has repeatedly drawn attention to the increasingly severe impact of the conflict on the civilian population," Krahenbuhl said in a statement.

"Never, however, has our concern been as acute as it is now. The conflict is intensifying and affecting wider parts of Afghanistan. Civilian casualties are significantly higher than a year ago."

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