Page last updated at 09:49 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 10:49 UK

Taleban 'killing more civilians'

By Martin Patience
BBC News, Kabul

Nato soldier in Kandahar province, Afghanistan
Nato has pledged to reduce the number of civilian deaths

The rate of Afghan civilians killed in Taleban attacks this year has increased compared to 12 months ago, Nato-led forces and local organisations say.

However, Nato's claim that the number of civilians killed by its forces has reduced has been disputed.

Senior officials in the Nato-led force say that 240 civilians were killed in Taleban attacks from January to mid-April this year.

That is a six-fold increase on the same period in 2007.

No tally

The officials said most of these deaths were from Taleban suicide bomb attacks aimed at international forces.

They also said that there had been a dramatic reduction in the number of civilians killed by Nato troops, dropping from 31 to four this year.

But these figures were disputed by local organisations.

One group which monitors security and advises aid workers said that at least 60 civilians had been killed by international troops this year.

The American-led coalition, which operates outside Nato's remit, says that it does not keep a tally on civilian casualties.

Civilian deaths caused by international forces cause enormous anger across the country and have turned many people against the international community and the Afghan government.

In the past, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said no civilian death is acceptable.

He has also been very critical of military operations which have killed or injured local people.

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