Where’s the outrage? Imagine if this effort and ingenuity had been put toward something constructive over the past 10 years. But you don’t get 72 virgins for building roads and sewers. “Civilian deaths in Afghanistan at highest level in a decade,” by Ben Farmer for the Telegraph, February 4:
The number of civilians killed in the conflict rose eight per cent last year to reach 3,021 — with more than three-quarters caused by attacks from the Taliban-led insurgency.
The findings that on average more than eight Afghans a day are being killed are at odds with Nato assessments that violence is falling.
Deaths from suicide attacks rose more than 80 per cent to 431 over the year.
The number of suicide attacks did not rise, but “the nature of these attacks changed, becoming more complex, sometimes involving multiple suicide bombers, and designed to yield greater numbers of dead and injured civilians” the report found.
The worst was an attack outside a Kabul shrine in December that killed at least 56 and wounded 195 when a bomber detonated in a crowd of Shia worshippers celebrating the Ashura holiday. That attack was claimed by Pakistan-based militants.
The biggest single killer of civilians was homemade landmines often dug into roads, tracks and paths to target Nato or Afghan troops, but detonating indiscriminately.
The United Nations said on average 23 such bombs were found or blew up each day, killing 967 civilians during the year.
Numbers of civilians killed by Nato troops or by Hamid Karzai’s forces fell slightly to 410.
Taliban leaders last year repeatedly called on their fighters to do more to protect civilians and threatened punishment to those who failed.
Such pronouncements have had little effect on the bloodshed, however.
“The continued high rate of civilian casualties by anti-government elements suggests that statements and proclamations alone neither resulted in improved protection of civilians nor minimised civilian casualties,” the UN report said.
Women and children were increasingly caught up in the violence, accounting for 30 per cent of deaths in the last half of the year….