ICRC sounds alarm in Kandahar

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The number of war casualties reported at Red Cross facilities in Kandahar is reaching record numbers, an official with the aid agency said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it recorded nearly 1,000 weapons-related injuries at a regional hospital in Kandahar in August and September, nearly double the number recorded during the same period in 2009.


Reto Stocker, the head of the ICRC mission in Kabul, said the number of injuries recorded is likely overshadowed by the number of those affected by conflict.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg, as those who suffer other sorts of injuries or contract disease as an indirect result of the conflict far outnumber weapon-wounded patients," he said in a statement.

Eight children were killed last week in a bombing in Kandahar. Stocker said there is a growing number of armed groups in the region that make it difficult for his agency to carry out its duties.

"Our greatest challenge consists in maintaining access to the areas hardest hit by the fighting but the increase in the number of armed groups is making this much harder for us," he said.


His assessment is in contrast to sentiments expressed last month by British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, who commands international forces operating in southern Afghanistan.

The general described Kandahar as a part of Afghanistan where "corruption, gang law and patronage" has created an atmosphere for insurgents to thrive.

He added, however, that forces under his command would be able to eliminate "the bulk of the Taliban in these areas by mid to late November."

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