Taliban attacks on Afghan government employees soared by 700 per cent last year even as the overall 2012 civilian death toll from the war fell for the first time in six years, the UN said today.
Targeted killings of female workers were "particularly disturbing," the UN said in its annual report on civilian casualties.
A total of 2,754 civilians died in the conflict last year, down 12 per cent on 2011, taking the toll over the past six years to 14,728.
"While the overall incidence of civilian casualties decreased in 2012, anti-government elements increasingly targeted civilians throughout the country," it said.
Civilian casualties among perceived government supporters, including government employees, religious leaders, tribal elders and people involved in peace efforts rose 108 per cent to 1,077.
"Of these, killings and injuries to civilian government employees increased by a staggering 700 per cent," the report said.
"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 four in five civilian deaths, while 8 per cent were caused by Afghan and Nato forces, the UN claimed.
The rest could not be attributed to either party.
"The decrease in civilian casualties documented in 2012 is very much welcome," said UN special representative Jan Kubis.
"Yet the human cost of the conflict remains unacceptable."
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