KABUL (AFP) – More than 1,300 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, mostly by Taliban insurgents, a leading Afghan rights group said Sunday.
Taliban militants were responsible for about 68 percent of the 1,325 deaths while Afghan and NATO troops were to blame for 23 percent, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission said.
Violent but “unknown factors” killed the rest, it said.
The new toll shows a five percent increase over the same period last year, the group said, citing a nationwide count of civilian casualties by its regional offices, senior commissioner Nader Nadery told reporters.
Most of the casualties caused by the insurgents were killed by improvised explosive devices, the Taliban’s weapon of choice which is also responsible for most military deaths in Afghanistan.
Nadery said fewer people had died in NATO-led airstrikes but more had been killed in rocket attacks targeting insurgents, but he did not give figures.
Civilian casualties have become a critical issue in the nearly nine-year Afghan war and reducing the number of such incidents is seen as crucial to a US-led counter-insurgency strategy designed to end the conflict.