A new UN report detailing the civilian casualties in the first six months of 2011 saw the civilian death toll in Afghanistan rising dramatically, some 15 percent over the same period in 2010, which was itself the worst year so far in the decade-long war.
The toll was largely (80%) the result of insurgent attacks, but also saw NATO killing an increased number of civilians, a grim change in direction reflecting the first period which was fully under Gen. David Petraeus’ command, after his predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, changed tactics dramatically in a somewhat successful effort to cut the civilian toll.
The UN reported NATO killing 79 civilians in air strikes as well as another 30 civilians in night raids. They conceded the toll among civilians was almost certainly higher than their report indicated, owing to the difficulting in gathering data.
And indeed, the second half of 2011 is already shaping up to be dramatically worse, at least from the NATO killings perspective. In only half a month NATO has already killed at least 34 civilians in air strikes and another six were killed last night in a night raid.