Afghan civilians pay lethal price for new policy on air strikes

Reducing ‘collateral damage’ is seen as a ‘secondary consideration’ as the coalition prepares withdrawal

By Brian Brady, Whitehall Editor, The Independent, July 31, 2011

Afghan men carry the bodies of those killed in a coalition air strike on 14 July afp/getty images:  Afghan men carry the bodies of those killed in a coalition air strike on 14 July

Civilians are bearing the brunt of the international forces’ onslaught against the Taliban as the coalition rushes to pacify Afghanistan before pulling out its troops, it was claimed last night.

Human rights groups warned that civilians are paying an increasingly high price for “reckless” coalition attacks, particularly aerial ones. The Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that five Afghan children were injured in an air strike carried out by a British Apache attack helicopter.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) has found that the rate of civilian casualties has reached a record high, with 1,462 killed in January to June this year. But, while the number of civilian victims of “pro-government action” fell, those who died as a result of coalition air attacks were 14 per cent higher than in the same period in 2010 – despite the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) issuing “tactical directives” designed to minimise risk to civilians.

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