Taliban blame most civilian deaths on airstrikes
KABUL (PAN): The Taliban on Thursday rubbished the latest UN report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan, calling the world body’s claims unilateral and baseless.
On Tuesday, the UN mission said in its annual report that For the first time in six years, civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s armed conflict had dropped by 12 percent in 2012. It recorded 2,754 civilian deaths and 4,805 injuries.
In total, 81 per cent of civilian casualties in 2012 were attributed to the insurgents and eight percent to operations by security forces. Eleven per cent of civilian casualties were unaccounted for.
The UN mission blamed the militants for 2,179 civilian deaths and 3,952 injuries, an increase of nine per cent over 2011. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) caused 868 civilian deaths and 1,663 injuries.
In 2012, 316 civilians were killed and 271 injured by government forces, a 46 per cent decrease from 2011. Similarly, collateral damage from aerial operations by international forces also fell by 42 per cent, causing 126 deaths and 78 injuries.
But the rebel movement rejected the UNAMA report as far from reality, with a spokesman for the group saying that the findings reflected no sign of neutrality.
In an open letter to the UN, Zabihullah Mujahid said: “In your reports, you always hold the Taliban responsible for a large number of civilian casualties, but you don’t give details in your reports about the number and places of the collateral damage.
“This in itself is cause for concern,” remarked the Taliban spokesman, who blamed most of the civilian deaths on NATO airstrikes and ground operations by Afghan and foreign forces. In support of claim, Mujahid cited recent deadly air raids in Kunar and Maidan Wardak provinces.
He also frowned upon the UN claim that a large number of innocent people were harmed by the Taliban-planted bombs and remotely-controlled explosive devices. Many roadside bombings were conducted by intelligence operatives to defame the Taliban, he charged.
For instance, Mujahid said, intelligence agents detonated a bomb that killed 11 girls in the Chaparhar district of eastern Nangarhar province.