Worrying increase in Afghan civilian deaths caused by US-allied forces in 2010

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Washington, Nov 2 (ANI): Internal U.S. military statistics have shown that American and allied forces have failed to reduce the number of civilian fatalities, and the figures rose to 160 in 2010, up from 144 by this time last year.

According to Los Angeles Times, civilian deaths have risen 11 percent from 144 at this time in 2009 to 160 this year. The increase has coincided with the rising number of incidents in which U.S. and NATO attack helicopters mistakenly fired on Afghans who turned out to be civilians.

Because of the U.S. units' entry into the insurgent-dominated areas of southern Afghanistan, and their employment of helicopters in greater numbers to provide support to troops on the ground, many civilians are inadvertently caught in a clash or mistaken for insurgents, according to a senior U.S. official familiar with the statistics.

He further said that only three civilians were mistakenly killed in helicopter attacks in the first 10 months of 2009, but the total till October reached to 37 this year.

The statistics were compiled by NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, the military command headed by U.S. General David H. Petraeus, and are based on casualty reports generated by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) units throughout Afghanistan.

In addition, the number of civilians killed by U.S. and NATO fixed-wing aircraft, fighters and bombers declined from 54 to 19, a 65 percent drop, even as the number of air strikes rose in recent months.

Despite the improving picture in many respects, civilian casualties remain a source of deep tension between the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has long insisted that Washington do more to reduce the number of incidents, the paper said. (ANI)

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