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Taliban challenge U.N.'s Afghan report

Published By United Press International
KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Afghan Taliban said it was challenging a U.N. report on the civilian death toll, saying international forces should share the blame.

A report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said more than 80 percent of the civilian casualties reported in Afghanistan over the Aug. 1-Oct. 1 period were from insurgent attacks.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the U.N. Security Council on the findings last week, saying anti-government forces were intimidating the civilian population deliberately to "extend influence and control, targeting those who challenge their authority or ideas."

The Taliban, in a statement, said UNAMA was skewing its own reporting in its favor.

"UNAMA has failed to even indicate the civilian casualties caused by bombings, raids and direct fire of the invading forces despite the fact that the mentioned forces oppress, detain and martyr civilians on a daily basis," the Taliban statement said.

Attributing "every explosion to the mujahedin," the statement said, was part of the effort to defame the Taliban.

UNAMA's report states the number of civilians killed in insurgent attacks is up 14 percent compared to the same time last year. Conflict in Afghanistan, Ban said, is taking an "unprecedented toll" on the civilian population.

NATO says the security situation is such that Afghan forces are able to take the lead during many military operations, though so-called green-on-blue attacks remain problematic.
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Race winner Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain (C) stands between second place finisher Christopher Froome of Great Britain (L) and third place finisher Vincenzo Nibali of Italy on the presentation podium following the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris on July 22, 2012. Wiggins of Great Britain became that country's first ever overall winner of the Tour de France. UPI/David Silpa