Afghan civilian deaths are rising: Government

Civilian casualties are rising in Afghanistan as US and NATO reinforcement’s stream into the country as part of a military buildup to combat the resurgent Taliban, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Last Updated: May 02, 2010, 19:32 PM IST

Kabul: Civilian casualties are rising in
Afghanistan as US and NATO reinforcement’s stream into the
country as part of a military buildup to combat the resurgent
Taliban, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

There have been 173 civilian deaths in violence in
Afghanistan from March 21 to April 21, marking a 33 per cent
increase over the same time period last year, the ministry
said. A recent quarterly report by the US office overseeing
Afghanistan`s rebuilding confirmed an increase in civilian
deaths.

The ministry did not provide a breakdown of who was
responsible for the fatalities.

Civilian deaths at the hands of US and other
international forces are highly sensitive in Afghanistan,
although the UN says the Taliban are responsible for most
civilian casualties. Still, the backlash could undermine US
strategy ahead of a summer military operation in Kandahar, a
key southern city that is the spiritual home of the Taliban.

The goal of the US-led operation is to flood in
troops, rout the militants and rush in new governance and
development projects to win the loyalty of Kandahar`s
half-million residents.

Public outrage over civilian deaths prompted the top
commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal last year to tighten the
rules on the use of airstrikes and other weaponry if civilians
are at risk.

There are fears the problem could get worse with
30,000 US and NATO reinforcements heading to Afghanistan as
part of a military buildup to take on the Taliban in the
south.

PTI