Killings of government workers rise in Afghanistan: U.N.

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Attacks on Afghan government employees rose by 700 percent last year, said the U.N. on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the overall civilian death toll from the war fell for the first time in six years, according to AFP.

Women employed in government service have been specifically targeted by Taliban-led insurgents. The U.N. mission labeled the trend as “particularly disturbing.”

A total of 2,754 civilians died in the conflict in 2012, those figures account for a12 percent drop from 2011. This takes the toll over the past six years to 14,728, the U.N. report said.

“While the overall incidence of civilian casualties decreased in 2012, anti-government elements increasingly targeted civilians throughout the country and carried out attacks without regard for human life,” it said.

Civilian casualties among perceived government supporters, including employees, religious leaders, tribal elders and individuals involved in peace efforts rose by 108 percent to 1,077.

“Of these, killings and injuries to civilian government employees increased by a staggering 700 percent,” the report stated.

“Particularly disturbing were targeted killings of women by anti-government elements demonstrated by the killings of the head and deputy head of the Laghman Department of Women’s Affairs in July and December 2012.”

Overall, insurgents were responsible for 81 percent of civilian casualties. Eight percent were caused by Afghan and NATO forces. No other party has been attributed the blame for the other 11 percent of deaths.

Efforts to reduce civilian casualties caused by pro-government forces, including NATO air strikes, led to a drop of more than 40 percent over the previous year.

This statistic will be welcomed by the NATO military leadership in Afghanistan; it regularly comes under fire from President Hamid Karzai over civilians killed by air strikes.