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Afghan Violence, Civilian Deaths Increasing, UN Chief Reports

Violence in Afghanistan, led by Taliban suicide attacks and assassinations, increased by 51 percent in the past three months compared with the same period in 2010, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

“The majority of incidents involved armed clashes and improvised explosive devices,” Ban said in a report released today. “Suicide attacks have increased significantly since March. Abductions and assassinations of Afghan citizens also rose.”

The report came the day after Taliban guerrillas armed with automatic weapons and explosives stormed the Hotel Inter-Continental in Kabul, triggering a five-hour gun battle with Afghan troops and police that left 12 people dead.

Ban said the UN documented 2,950 civilian casualties in the past three months, a 20 percent increase over the same 2010 period that includes 1,090 deaths and 1,860 injuries. Anti-government forces were linked to 80 percent of the casualties and Afghan, U.S. and allied military actions caused 10 percent, the report said. The other 10 percent could not be attributed to either side.

“The rise in civilian casualties, following the Taliban’s announcement of a spring offensive on 30 April, was due in part to an expansion in the operations of anti-government elements and pro-government forces throughout the country, particularly in the north and in the regions bordering Pakistan,” Ban said in the report to the Security Council.

“All concerned must do their utmost to protect civilians and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” he said.

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