Dramatic increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan

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Dramatic increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan

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Nine years into the conflict, the latest figures show the risks to ordinary people in Afghanistan are greater than ever.

Six-monthly figures from the UN show a dramatic increase in civilian deaths and injuries – up by 31 percent in the first six months of 2010.

“Thirty one percent means what? In real terms, in human being terms, 3,268 civilians during the past six months. Afghan civilians have been the casualties of this conflict.” said UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura.

The Taliban were responsible for 76 percent of deaths and casualties, up from 53 percent last year.

While those attributed to pro-government forces fell to 12 percent, a big drop down from 42 percent.

This turnaround has been attributed to a US policy change, aimed at protecting civilians. Amid growing anger at the number of fatalities, former NATO commander General Stanley McChristal issued orders severely limiting the use of airstrikes.

Most of the deaths and injuries attributed to insurgents were due to an increase in home-made bombs and political assassinations.

The UN says Afghan women and children are increasingly bearing the brunt.

Amid claims that many deaths are going unreported, these latest figures can only add to the growing sense of insecurity in Afghanistan.