The recent escalation of violence in Afghanistan has caused a surge of civilian casualties in recent months, according to a statement issued by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), a coalition of 100 NGOs working in Afghanistan. There were over 260 civilian casualties in July of 2008, more than any other month in the past six years. And, as Helena Cobban writes, these civilian casualties are at best a footnote in Western media. According to ACBAR, there's plenty of blame to go around:
Around two-thirds of the reported civilian casualties can be attributed to insurgent activities, especially the increasing use of suicide bombings and other indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas and the use of civilian property from which to launch attacks. The increased number of air strikes by international military forces, which are up by approximately 40 per cent on last year, has also contributed to the rising civilian death toll.
Searches conducted by Afghan and international forces have on some occasions involved excessive use of force, extra-judicial killings, destruction of property and/or mistreatment of suspects.