Re­port: Tal­iban attacks up along with civil­ian deaths

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

KABUL, Afghanistan — Tal­iban in­sur­gents have car­ried out more attacks this year than at any time since early in the war, killing in­creas­ing num­bers of civil­ians as U.S.-led forces push into the mil­i­tants’ south­ern strongholds, an Afghan rights group said Mon­day.

In­ter­na­tional troops were re­spon­si­ble for about one-fifth of civil­ian deaths — down from pre­vi­ous years, thanks to re­stric­tive rules of en­gage­ment.

At least 1,074 civil­ians died in the first half of this year, triple the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional forces killed in the same pe­riod, the Afghanistan Rights Monitor said. Its re­port called 2010 the worst year for se­cu­rity since shortly af­ter the demise of the Tal­iban regime.

Vi­o­lence has soared as coali­tion forces, bol­stered by 30,000 Amer­i­can re­in­force­ments, move into Tal­iban strongholds in the south and east to try to wrest the ar­eas from the mil­i­tants, strengthen Afghan govern­ment con­trol and win Afghans’ trust. The in­sur­gents have re­sponded with a wave of am­bushes, sui­cide attacks, road­side bombs and as­sas­si­na­tions.

The num­ber of civil­ian deaths is up in 2010, though only slightly, over the pre­vi­ous year’s first half, but the num­ber of in­sur­gent attacks — and their share of the civil­ian deaths — has spiked.

Afghanistan Rights Monitor Di­rec­tor Aj­mal Sa­madi said the group recorded 1,200 vi­o­lent in­ci­dents in June alone, the most in a sin­gle month since early 2002.

As re­ports of bomb­ings and as­sas­si­na­tions mount from all over the coun­try, some Afghans are feel­ing in­creas­ingly un­easy.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I am hope­less with the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, and I don’t see a bright fu­ture,” said Ah­mad Fahim, 28, who works in the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry in Kabul.

Fahim has no trou­ble be­liev­ing this year is the most vi­o­lent since the war’s early months. He said he and his friends see and hear the ev­i­dence in daily news re­ports. He holds the Tal­iban ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble but says the U.S. and its part­ners still kill too many civil­ians, even if by ac­ci­dent.

Still, in­sur­gents were re­spon­si­ble for 661 of war-re­lated civil­ian deaths so far this year, or 61 per­cent. In­ter­na­tional forces were re­spon­si­ble for 20 per­cent of the deaths and Afghan se­cu­rity forces for 10 per­cent. The re­main­ing deaths ei­ther had un­clear causes or were at­trib­uted to gangs or pri­vate se­cu­rity forces. The Afghan group com­piles its statis­tics from in­ter­views with wit­nesses, fam­i­lies of vic­tims, lo­cal of­fi­cials and me­dia re­ports.

The share of ac­ci­den­tal deaths by coali­tion and Afghan forces is fall­ing, the statis­tics showed. Sa­madi cred­ited the pol­icy of re­straint is­sued by for­mer in­ter­na­tional forces com­man­der Gen. Stan­ley McChrys­tal last year that se­verely lim­its the cir­cum­stances in which troops can call in an airstrike or fire into build­ings. The strict rules of en­gage­ment are un­pop­u­lar among some troops, who think they cost Amer­i­can lives and force them to give up the ad­van­tage of over­whelm­ing fire­power to a foe who can at­tack and then melt back into the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.