Taliban's Share of Afghan Civilian Deaths Rises

They're behind 85% of civilian deaths, coalition says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2011 9:35 AM CDT
Taliban's Share of Afghan Civilian Deaths Rises
Villagers stand around the covered bodies of people killed when gunmen opened fire on a wedding party in Dur Baba district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, June 9, 2011.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Coalition forces in Afghanistan say their efforts to avoid collateral damage are paying off. Insurgents, by their estimates, are now responsible for 85% of civilian deaths and injuries in the war, up from 75% of deaths and 78% of injuries last year. “The vast majority of civilian casualties are caused by the Taliban,” one Air Force brigadier general tells USA Today.

NATO thinks the trend will turn public opinion in its favor, as NATO strikes that kill civilians lessen the Afghan public's support of its efforts. One coalition spokesman says the effects are already visible in the Afghan media. “We've seen a significant shift from them just reporting what the Taliban says. They have come to trust us a lot more and the Taliban a lot less." The report notes that the Taliban still use human shields, and use roadside bombs that could hit anyone. (More Afghanistan war stories.)

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