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90pc of Afghan 'Taliban fighters' detained by coalition forces in 2010 were civilians - report

Report questions figures released by coalition commander given that the majority of so-called Taliban militants were released within days of arrest – because they were civilians.

File photo: Suspected Taliban fighters arrested in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, in January 2011.
File photo: Suspected Taliban fighters arrested in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, in January 2011.
Image: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

SOME 90 PER CENT of the supposed Taliban fighters which General David Petraeus announced last year had been captured by coalition forces in Afghanistan were actually civilians, according to a report in IPS.

Gareth Porter reports in IPS that Petraeus, who commands the joint forces operation in Afghanistan, released figures showing high numbers of Taliban militants were being captured and killed throughout 2010. However, over 80 per cent were released within days of their detention because they were civilians and more were subsequently released for the same reason.

‘Bloodiest month’

This weekend, the UN released an interim report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan after a particularly deadly month in May.

The UN said it had been the most violent one for civilians since 2007 – when civilian deaths were first recorded. At least 368 civilians were killed in May. Of those, anti-government militants were responsible for the majority (82 per cent), while pro-government forces were responsible for 12 per cent.

Civilian casualties rose after the Taliban announced it was starting its ‘spring offensive’ at the end of April. The insurgents have focused on Afghan security forces in particular in an effort to undermine coalition attempts to hand responsibility for security over to local forces.

Read Gareth Porter’s report in IPS in full >

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