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Civilian deaths in Afghanistan significantly down in 2009: NATO
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09:31, April 23, 2009

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The number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan went down by 39 percent in the first three months of 2009 compared to the same period a year before, NATO said on Wednesday.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai said 81 percent of the civilian deaths were caused by the Talilban-led insurgents and 19 percent by international troops in the first three months of 2009. He did not give the overall number of civilian deaths in this period.

A total of 1,240 civilians were killed in 2008 in Afghanistan and the Taliban and other militant groups were responsible for 80 percent of them, according to NATO counts. But the UN mission in Afghanistan said more than 2,100 civilians were killed last year.

"It is important to note that despite the increase in (the numbers of) international forces, efforts to reduce the numbers of civilian casualties are having an effect," said Appathurai.

He said NATO and the Afghan security forces will establish about three dozen joint coordination centers throughout the country by mid-summer to coordinate military support and security support for the presidential and provincial elections in August.

Four battalions of extra troops will be deployed by mid-summer to help secure the elections. The extra troops will stay long enough in case a presidential run-off is needed in early October, he said.


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