Increase in number of civilians killed in insurgent, NATO, US strikes

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A new report shows a 40 percent rise in the number of Afghan civilians killed in militant attacks and in airstrikes by foreign troops this year.

The United Nations report counts more than 1,400 Afghan deaths so far this year. The U.N. tally finds more civilians died in Afghanistan last month than in any month since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban.

The report says most of the deaths -- 800 -- were caused by Taliban and other militants. The report says U.S. or NATO airstrikes caused 395 deaths -- or two-thirds of the total casualties inflicted by pro-government forces.

The U.N. human rights chief (Navi Pallay) says the Taliban are apparently "carrying out a systematic campaign of intimidation and violence" aimed at Afghan civilians they suspect of supporting the Afghan government and military forces.

Some 330 civilians died just last month, including about 92 killed believed in a U.S.-led raid.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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