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Afghan death toll declines, U.N. finds

Published By United Press International
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Though the overall number of civilian deaths as a result of conflict in Afghanistan is down, they were increasingly the target of attacks, a U.N. report says.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported a 12 percent drop in the number of civilian deaths from conflict in 2012 when compared to 2011 figures. The decline, the first in six years, was attributed to a decrease in the number of suicide attacks as well as efforts by international forces to avoid civilian causalities when fighting militants.

Jan Kubis, U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan, said the decrease in the number of civilian deaths was welcome news, though it was overshadowed by the continued use of improvised explosive devices.

"Steep increases in the deliberate targeting of civilians perceived to be supporting the government demonstrates another grave violation of international humanitarian law," he added. "Particularly appalling is the use of suicide attacks including those carried out by brainwashed children to murder civilians which is also a clear breach of the norms of Islam."

International forces are wrapping up their mission in Afghanistan after more than 10 years of engagements. Elections are planned for next year.

UNAMA reports that more than 80 percent of the civilian casualties were attributed to those fighting against Afghan and international forces.
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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