Taliban vow to keep targeting Afghan officials

Taliban vow to keep targeting Afghan officials

The Taliban vowed on Thursday to target government employees and other Afghan civilians they consider linked to the US-led coalition despite a warning from the United Nations that such killings may violate international law.

Zabiullah Mujahid rejected an annual report issued by the UN Mission in Afghanistan that accused the Taliban of targeting civilians and blamed the insurgency for the overwhelming majority of deaths in its war against President Hamid Karzai’s government and the foreign military coalition.

“Regretfully the report published by the head of the UNAMA in Kabul, about the civilian casualties in the country, does not bear impartiality,” Mujahid said in the email, written in English. The report, issued earlier in the week, found that 2,754 civilians were killed in 2012, a 12 percent decrease from 3,131 in the same period a year earlier. It was the first time in six years that the civilian death toll dropped.

It said the Taliban and other insurgents were responsible for 81 per cent of the civilian casualties last year. It said so-called anti-government elements killed 2,179 civilians and wounded 3,952 — a 9 percent increase in such casualties from 2011. Of those, 698 were killed in targeted attacks, often against government employees. That was up from 512 in 2011.

“Now within that proportion, the killing of civilian government employees went up by 700 percent,” Georgette Gagnon, the head of human rights for UNAMA, said in presenting the report on Tuesday.

Chief UN envoy Jan Kubis welcomed the decline in casualties but warned militants who target civilians will face justice.

“No Afghan can accept that the above mentioned people are civilian. We have pledged in the beginning of our yearly operations that these people are criminals. They are directly involved in the protraction of our country's invasion and legally we do not find any difficulty in their elimination, rather we consider it our obligation,” Mujahid said.

He also denied that the Taliban were specifically targeting civilians with homemade bombs.

“The obvious thing is that our enemy is exhausted with our mine tactics and has suffered serious losses and you want to defame our effective resource,” Mujahid said.

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