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    Civilian casualties doubled in north: UN

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Casualties inflicted on ordinary people in northern Afghanistan over the past six months this year has doubled compared to the same period last year, a United Nations official said on Wednesday.

    The casualties increased by 55 percent among children and a six percent among women, Georgette Gagnon, Director of Human Rights for United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told a news conference in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of northern Balkh province.

    He said civilians had been inflicted casualties in attacks and bomb explosions by anti-government elements and operations by NATO-led and Afghan troops.

    "ISAF and Afghan soldiers are also involved in civilian deaths as a result wrong intelligence," she said, adding the number of civilians suffered casualties across the country increased 31 percent.

    One-thirds of civilian casualties were attributable to militants, showing a total increase of 71 percent, she added.

    However, she said the number of Afghans killed by NATO-led soldiers during the ongoing year had reduced compared to last year.

    "As the number of airstrikes decreased, the number of civilian fatalities dropped by 30 percent," the official said. 

    Regional director of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Sayed Ahmad Samee said 70 cases of violence against women had been registered in the north this year.

    Most of the cases were related to runaway from homes by women and girls, torture and sexual abuses, he said, adding most of the incidents had taken place in remote areas, where access to justice was difficult.