Top of the Morning: Mixed Data on Afghan Civilian Deaths; Ban Calls for Sanctions on Mali Militants

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

Afghan Civilian Deaths Drop, But Targeted Assassinations Spike

A UN report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2012 brings decidedly mixed news. “Afghan civilian deaths dropped 22 percent in the first six months of 2012 compared with a year ago, but the number of civilians killed in targeted assassinations surged, the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday. The overall reduction was largely due to a decrease in the number killed by insurgents’ homemade bombs and suicide attacks, the report said. The number of civilians who died in NATO attacks including airstrikes also fell. It was the first time the U.N. data had shown such a sustained reduction in civilian deaths since it started counting in 2007. Even so, U.N. officials cautioned that fighting started to pick up in May and that civilian casualties are already spiking again…The rise in targeted killings has been particularly sharp, the U.N. said. The Taliban regularly target anyone from government officials to local elders who agree to work with the government or the international military for assassination. The insurgents have said that anyone who associates with the government is a collaborator and therefore not a civilian. Civilian deaths from targeted killings and assassinations jumped 34 percent from 255 in this year’s period from 190 in 2011, the U.N. said.” (WaPo

Ban Ki Moon Calls for Sanctions on Militants in Northern Mali

Meanwhile, ECOWAS is eagerly awaiting an invitation from the government of Mali to send a 3,000 troop force to the north. “The U.N. secretary-general called Wednesday on the Security Council to sanction extremists who have taken over northern Mali, and he warned of worsening security and humanitarian crises in the African country. Ban Ki-Moon asked the council to consider financial and travel sanctions on rebels and Islamist fighters, including several allied with al-Qaida. Since June, Islamists have taken over Mali’s largely desert north and imposed Shariah law, recently stoning an adulterous couple to death. The U.N. says more than 250,000 people have fled the country and 174,000 have been internally displaced since a military coup in March.’‘Since the start of the crisis earlier this year, we have seen the situation take one alarming turn after another, reaching seemingly new depths with every passing week,’’ Ban said. ‘‘These grave developments have brought enormous suffering to the people of Mali. They also pose a widening threat to international peace and security.’” (Boston Globe