| GEO World|
| Afghan civilian deaths at 2,412: UN|
| Updated at: 1101 PST, Wednesday, January 13, 2010|
KABUL: Civilian casualties in the Afghan war rose significantly last year over 2008, to 2,412, the United Nations said Wednesday, with the vast majority of the deaths caused by Taliban attacks.
The UN's Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported a 14 percent rise in civilian deaths in 2009, up from 2,118 a year earlier.
The rise makes 2009 the deadliest year for Afghans since the war began soon after the Taliban regime was overthrown in a US-led invasion in late 2001.
"The intensification and spread of the armed conflict in Afghanistan continued to take a heavy toll on civilians throughout 2009," the report said.
As the insurgency has escalated and spread from the southern provinces where it began, 2009 was also the deadliest for foreign forces fighting the Taliban, with 520 troop deaths, up from 295 for the year before.
The UN report said 70 percent of last year's civilian deaths, or 1,681, were in insurgent attacks, while pro-government forces including NATO and US troops were responsible for 25 percent, or 596 civilian deaths last year.
Another 135 civilians were killed in violence unattributable to the conflicting parties, it said.
"2009 was the worst year in recent times for civilians affected by the armed conflict," the report said, adding: "UNAMA HR (human rights) recorded the highest number of civilian casualties since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001."