ISAF concerned about civilian deaths: Gen. Blotz
KABUL(PAN): Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are not intentional and foreign forces are seriously concerned about such incidents, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Monday.
"We are doing our best to curb civilian deaths, which have been reduced this year, compared to 2010," Gen. Josef Blotz told a press conference in Kabul.
Reports issued by human rights organisations and the UN for 2010 show that 2,700 civilians lost their lives in the Afghan war during the year, indicating a 15 percent increase in civilian casualties, compared to the previous year.
Last year was the deadliest for noncombatants since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001, according to a UN report, which attributed a drastic increase in civilian deaths to Taliban and other insurgent attacks that caused almost 75 percent of the fatalities.
Last week, President Hamid Karzai issued a final warning to international troops over civilian casualties in night-time operations against militants. The troops would become an occupying force if they did not stop harming civilians, he warned.
But Blotz said they continued to work with Afghan partners in planning and executing operations to increase the capability of local forces in leading the fight against rebels.
On Sunday, National Directorate of Security officials held a meeting at the Presidential Palace to discuss issues, including civilian casualties in clashes between militants and security forces in eastern Nuristan province.
NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, and senior Afghan officials were present at the meeting. They discussed ways of curtailing civilian deaths.
Petraeus promised an end to nighttime airstrikes on civilian houses.
Keeping in view President Hamid Karzai's concern, he said, NATO-led forces would do their bit to avoid civilian killings.
During his farewell visit to Kabul, outgoing US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said if night raids continued to take place after Karzai's warning, the Afghan nation would consider foreign soldiers as occupying forces.
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