Washington: Civilian deaths caused by the war in Afghanistan have dropped for the first time in six years, the United Nations has said.
The new report by the UN linked the 12 percent drop in civilian deaths in 2012 to reduced ground fighting by the warring sides, chiefly the Taliban and US troops; a decrease in the number of NATO coalition airstrikes; and fewer suicide attacks by insurgents.
The UN recorded 2,754 civilian deaths in Afghanistan in 2012, compared with 3,131 in 2011, the Washington Post reports.
Since 2007, when the world body began keeping these statistics, 14,728 civilians have been killed in the conflict, the report said.
For years, civilian deaths caused by foreign troops have been a thorny issue between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers, especially the United States.
According to the UN report, militants are responsible for far more such casualties, 81 percent in 2012, than NATO forces, the paper said.
Eight percent of civilian casualties were attributed to coalition forces, the report said; 11 percent were not linked to a specific cause, it added.