Worst year for civilian deaths in Afghanistan

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Insurgents killed more Afghan civilians last year than ever before and their roadside bombs, suicide attacks and assassinations were responsible for the majority of conflict-related deaths, the United Nations said yesterday.

Yet deaths attributed to the US-led coalition and Afghan security forces dropped sharply by more than a quarter despite a surge in troops and an increased military campaign against the Taliban.

The death toll reflects an escalation in battles between international forces and insurgents in the drive to flush the Taliban from their strongholds.