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    Challenges remain despite reduced rebel attacks: ISAF

    KABUL (PAN): The NATO-led ISAF spokesman on Monday said although insurgent attacks have reduced compared to last year, Afghanistan still is facing several challenges.

    "The most severe challenges are group attacks by anti-government militants, who use roadside bombs," Carsten Jacobson told a news conference in Kabul.

    Foreign troops are worried about the increasing violence, he added, adding ISAF soldiers were aware of non-stop civilian casualties and were trying to help reduce casualties among civilians.

    Jacobson held the anti-government insurgents responsible for 85 percent of civilian casualties, with 70 percent of them caused by roadside bombings. 

    In July, a UN report said insurgents were responsible for 80 percent of Afghan civilian deaths this year. The annual mid-year report said that NATO troops were responsible for 14 percent of the fatalities, with half of them occurred during airstrikes.

    Nearly 1,462 Afghan civilians were killed in violence-related incidents across Afghanistan in the first half of 2011, showing a 15 percent surge in civilian casualties, the UN said on July 14.

    But the Taliban called the report as partial, one-sided and far from reality.

    Rebel spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, in an email said the UN had filed its report in line with information provided by the US army and the Afghan government.

    "The Taliban have always been calling for a thorough, fair and transparent investigation into civilian casualties. But the UN has never acted to be impartial in this regard," Mujahid said. He said they condemned the report for being biased.

    Jacobson said insurgent attacks had decreased compared to previous years, adding 29 percent decrease was recorded in such attacks this year compared to last year.

    Guerrilla attacks during June and August this year reduced by 33 percent compared to the same period last year, he said, adding the Afghan and international soldiers were trying to maintain security across Afghanistan.

    frm/ma



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