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World Briefing / Afghanistan

Red Cross warns of risk to civilians

March 03, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

Civilians will bear the brunt of an escalation in the Afghan war this year as thousands more U.S. troops deploy unless more is done by NATO forces and Taliban militants to protect them, a top Red Cross official said.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are "significantly higher" today than a year ago, and an intensification of the conflict this year could mean that consequences for many more Afghans will be "dire in the extreme," said Pierre Krahenbuhl, the director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The United Nations last month said 2,118 civilians died in the Afghan conflict in 2008, a 40% increase from the 2007 toll.

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