Taliban Suffer Blow in Public Relations War in Afghanistan
8.12.10 – Terror group takes a hit in U.N. report revealing insurgent forces are largely responsible for spike in civilian deaths.
WASHINGTON — The Taliban suffered a major blow in Afghanistan’s critical public relations war this week after a United Nations report revealed that insurgent forces are largely responsible for a spike in civilian deaths and injuries. The number of Afghan casualties has increased 31 percent in 2010 compared to the same time period in 2009, according to the report issued Tuesday by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
“Three quarters of all civilian casualties were linked to Anti-Government Elements (AGEs), an increase of 53 percent from 2009,” the report reads.
This damning number for the insurgency stands in contrast to efforts of US and NATO forces, who under strict guidelines to minimize the frequency of air strikes have curbed civilian deaths by 64 percent, according to the report.
The increase in death and injury among Afghan civilians is due in large part to hidden roadside bombs, improvised explosive devices, and suicide bombing missions conducted by the Taliban and other insurgent forces.
Just in the last two days Afghanistan has suffered 4 attacks on civilians at the hands of insurgents. On Wednesday two suicide bombers accidentally detonated their vests in a mosque, and on Tuesday two separate roadside bombings killed three Afghan civilians and wounded three others.
The new commander of US and International forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, highlighted the importance of reducing civilian deaths in his recently updated tactical directive to troops. “Every Afghan death diminishes our cause,” Petraeus wrote. “While we have made progress in our efforts to reduce coalition-caused civilian casualties, we know the measure by which our mission will be judged is protecting the population from harm by either side. We will redouble our efforts to prevent insurgents from harming their neighbors.”
Petraeus believes that if Afghans don’t feel secure, regardless of which side the threat is coming from, the U.S. is not winning.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Wednesday he hopes Afghans will notice the steps U.S. Forces have taken to avoid collateral damage.
“We do think that as people are able to see what we’re doing and the care that we try to take… people will see that we are true partners with the Afghan people… and certainly the Taliban have a different purpose.”
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