Attrition: Afghans Killing Afghans


March 28, 2015:   With foreign combat troops all (except for some commandos, trainers and techs) gone from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 it was no surprise that the pattern of civilian losses there has changed. In 2014 civilian deaths from organized violence (mostly Islamic terrorists but also various warlords and criminal gangs) increased about 20 percent to 3,700. That’s 11.5 per 100,000 population, which about doubles if you include the murders (from crime, domestic violence, tribal feuds). Afghanistan has always been a very violent place but most of the country does not see any Taliban or other Islamic terrorist related violence. Thus the rate of deaths in Taliban country (parts of the south and east) is much higher and pretty terrifying even for Afghans. In the last six years civilian deaths from Taliban relate violence has averaged nearly 3,000 a year.

With most of the foreign troops gone or in the process of leaving in 2014 the Taliban had fewer foreign troops to attack, usually with roadside bombs or suicide car bombers.  Since most of the victims from these attacks were civilian bystanders (which made the Taliban very unpopular) the Taliban was able to cut way back on these attacks. Now the main enemy was the Afghan security forces (army and police) and much more Taliban activity was directed there, and against uncooperative civilians. This resulted in more gun battles or the use of rockets and mortars to attack police or army facilities or tribal militias. This also led to civilian casualties, and such losses from combat rose 52 percent in 2014. Thus in 2014 some 72 percent of civilian deaths were from gunfire, grenades, rockets and mortar shells. While the security forces were careful about hitting civilians during these battles, the Taliban were not. In fact, the Taliban often used gunfire, rockets and mortars to punish or coerce civilians. Another 14 percent of civilian deaths were from the less disciplined firepower of pro-government militias (tribal or otherwise) and 12 percent of civilian deaths were from the security forces. Foreign troops only accounted for two percent (mostly while providing air support for Afghan troops and police.) Losses from pro-government forces were up 50 percent from 2013 as more tribal militias were organized to fight Taliban efforts to take control of tribal territory. The growing number of ground battles will mean still more civilian deaths.








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