More than 3,000 civilians killed in Afghanistan war last year – UN

More than 3,000 civilians died in the war in Afghanistan last year, according to the latest UN figures. Civilian deaths have now increased for five years in a row.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 3,021 civilian deaths in 2011. In 2010, there were 2,790 such deaths; in 2009, 2,412.

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The majority were caused by insurgents and their increasingly deadly suicide and bomb attacks on civilians, according to UNAMA. In particular, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were reported to be the "single largest killer of Afghan children, women and men in 2011," accounting for 32 percent of all civilian deaths.

Insurgents were responsible for 2,332 civilian deaths in 2011, the report said, an increase of 14 percent on the previous year. The rebels have recently changed strategy to increase civilian casualties, Reuters reported.

"While the number of suicide attacks did not increase over 2010, the nature of these attacks changed, becoming more complex, sometimes involving multiple bombers, and designed to yield greater numbers of dead and injured civilians," UNAMA said.

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Security forces killed 410 civilians, four percent fewer than in 2010. Air strikes were the main cause of civilian deaths by pro-government forces, leading to a total of 187 deaths. That represents an increase of nine percent from 2010.

Nearly 12,000 Afghan civilians have been killed since 2007, UNAMA's figures show.

"For much too long Afghan civilians have paid the highest price of war," said Jan Kubis, UN Special Representative for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "Parties to the conflict must greatly increase their efforts to protect civilians to prevent yet another increase in civilian deaths and injuries in 2012."

Civilian deaths are one of the biggest sources of tension between the Afghan government and its US-led allies.

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