AP via CNN, October 2, 2007

Afghan violence at highest level since 2001, UN reports

An Associated Press count of insurgency-related deaths, meanwhile, reached 5,086 in the first nine months of this year.

KABUL -- Violence in Afghanistan has surged this year with suicide bombings inflicting an especially high toll on civilians, a new United Nations report says.

The report said Afghanistan is averaging 550 violent incidents a month, up from an average of 425 last year. It said three-fourths of suicide bombings are targeting international and Afghan security forces, but suicide bombers also killed 143 civilians through August.

Victim of Musa Qala bombing
A small boy injured by US/NATO bombs during the night of August 25/26, 2007 in Musa Qala (by Abdul Khaleq/ AP)

Photo Gallery of US victims in Afghanistan ( http://www.rawa.org/s-photos.htm )
The Afghan Victim Memorial Project by Prof. Marc ( http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/memorial.htm )

"Suicide attacks have been accompanied by attacks against students and schools, assassinations of officials, elders and mullahs, and the targeting of police in a deliberate and calculated effort to impede the establishment of legitimate government institutions," according to the report, which was released in New York last week.

A suicide attack Tuesday on a police bus in western Kabul killed at leas 10 officers and civilians, including a woman and her two children who boarded the vehicle seconds before the explosion, the Afghan government reported. It was the second bombing of a bus in the capital in four days.

The U.N. report didn't give any other violence-related numbers. It said the increase in violent incidents a month rose at least 20 percent, but the actual increase is closer to 30 percent, according to the U.N. figures.

An Associated Press count of insurgency-related deaths, meanwhile, reached 5,086 in the first nine months of this year. AP counted 4,019 deaths in 2006, based on violent incidents reported by Western and Afghan officials. That was the first year AP compiled such figures.

The AP tally for this year includes more than 3,500 militants killed and more than 650 civilians dead from either insurgent violence or U.S. or NATO attacks.

Almost 180 international soldiers have been killed. That includes 85 U.S. military personnel, nearing the total of 98 American deaths reported by the Pentagon for all of 2006.

Insurgents have staged a record number of suicide attacks this year -- more than 100, including the two bus bombings in Kabul since Saturday that killed 43 people between them.

Poverty is driving people into the arms of the Taliban.
"The Taliban has become an alternative source of employment, recruiting the jobless as foot soldiers in the insurgency," US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a recent report.
Reuters, April 2, 2007

Four children were among at least 10 people killed in Tuesday's suicide attack by a man wearing a pakul -- an Afghan hat commonly seen in the country's north -- and a shawl around the upper half of his body called a chador, said Amin Gul, who owns a metalworking shop next to the blast site.

"When the bus came, an old man got on, then a woman with two children, then the guy wearing the chador entered, and then a big boom," said Gul, who witnessed the attack.

Tuesday's explosion is the third attack in four months against police or army buses in Kabul.

On Saturday, a suicide bomber wearing an army uniform blew himself up in an army bus, killing 30 people. In June, a bomb ripped through a bus carrying police instructors in Kabul, killing 35 people in the deadliest insurgent attack since the 2001 invasion.

A coalition soldier was killed by gunfire Tuesday morning while conducting combat operations in the northeastern province of Kunar. Three other soldiers were wounded, the coalition said in a statement. The nationalities of the soldiers weren't provided, but most soldiers in eastern Afghanistan are American.

Militants in Kunar attacked a border security post, killing three police, said Zargun Shah Khaliqyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor. It was not clear if the two incidents in Kunar were related.

Canadian troops in Kandahar shot and killed a 35-year-old man and wounded a child in what NATO's International Security Assistance Force called an "accidental discharge" by a weapons system.

The Afghan Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said Afghan and coalition soldiers battled insurgents in Uruzgan province on Sunday, killing 26 of the militants. There was no way to independently verify the claim. - AP

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