31% rise in Afghan civilian deaths

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The number of civilians killed or wounded in the Afghan conflict rose 31% in the first six months of the year, and anti-government forces caused about three-quarters of the casualties, the United Nations said in a report today.

"The human cost of this conflict is unfortunately rising," Staffan De Mistura, the top UN envoy in Afghanistan, said about the report released in the capital, Kabul.

"We are worried. We are concerned. We are very concerned about the future because the human cost is being paid too heavily by civilians. This report is a wake-up call."

According to the UN report, 1,271 Afghans died and 1,997 were injured - mostly from roadside bombings - in the first six months of the year.

The UN in Afghanistan said anti-government forces were responsible for 76% of the casualties - up from 53% last year.

"If they want to be part of a future Afghanistan, they cannot do so over the bodies of so many civilians," Mr de Mistura said.

The report said that 386, or 12%, of the Afghan casualties were due to US, Nato and other pro-government forces.

Overall, the report said the number of children killed or wounded has risen 55% compared with the same six-month period last year, with 176 children killed and 389 injured.