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Human Rights Watch Says Afghan Civilian Deaths Rising --> Afghan forces secure a school in Kunar following an April 2006 mortar attack (epa) April 16, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A human rights group says civilian deaths have increased dramatically in Afghanistan, making 2006 the deadliest year for Afghan civilians since 2001.

In a report released today, New York-based Human Rights Watch said insurgent bombings in Afghanistan doubled from 2005 to 2006, and estimated that some 700 civilians died in bombings and other attacks.

The report said Taliban militants are increasingly targeting specific groups of civilians, including aid workers, journalists, doctors, religious leaders, and government employees, condemning them as spies or collaborators. It noted that attacks on teachers and schools, especially girls' schools, reached a new high.

The report also noted that military operations by Afghan government and international forces have caused many civilian casualties. It said those casualties did not appear to be intentional, but said there were many cases in which international forces failed to prevent harm to civilians.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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