The number of Afghan civilians who died in war-related violence last year soared to the highest annual level since the conflict began in 2001, with nearly 70% blamed on insurgents, according the the UN, and 25% to allied forces. The UN mission in Afghanistan said 2,412 civilians were killed in 2000—a 14% increase over 2008. The deaths caused by allied forces show a 28% drop over the previous year.
Almost half of the civilian casualties occurred in southern Afghanistan, which has seen intense fighting as US and allied troops seek to oust the Taliban and other insurgents. US and NATO commander Stanley McChrystal has ordered troops to use airstrikes judiciously and take other measures to reduce civilian casualties following widespread public outrage over civilian deaths.
(Read more civilian casualties stories.)