U.S. Afghan civilian killings on rise

Nov. 2, 2010 at 10:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. military statistics show U.S. and allied forces haven't reduced the number of Afghan civilian fatalities they cause despite American commanders' efforts.

The statistics, compiled by NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, which is the military command led by U.S. Gen. David H. Petraeus, are based on reports made by ISAF units throughout Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Civilian deaths rose 11 percent from 144 last year at this time to 160 in 2010, the report from Washington showed.

The increase coincides with the rising number of incidents of U.S. and NATO attack helicopters mistakenly firing on Afghan civilians, the Times reported.

A senior U.S. official familiar with the reports said as part of a push into insurgent-dominated areas of southern Afghanistan, the troops have employed more of the helicopters to provide support to ground troops, which has created more situations in which civilians are mistakenly targeted as insurgents.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long demanded Washington do more to reduce the number of civilian fatalities.

"Innocent Afghan people should not be the victims in the fight against terrorism," Karzai said on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"We must continue, indeed, redouble, our efforts to reduce the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum," Petraeus said, adding that any measures must be weighed against "our obligation to protect our troops."

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