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KABUL: The Geneva-based UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has expressed “alarm” over reports that hundreds of children have been killed by US forces in Afghanistan in the past five years.
But US forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) leading the Nato fight against Taliban dismissed the concerns as “categorically unfounded”.
CRC said the deaths were “due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force”. It gave no statistics.
Nato forces reduced civilian casualties by 49 percent in 2012 compared with 2011 and the number of children killed or wounded in air strikes dropped by nearly 40 percent in the same period, USFOR-A said.
A CRC report also expressed concern that troops responsible for the killings had not always been held accountable and that family grievances had not been redressed.
USFOR-A said that in each case in which civilians are killed “army officers make every effort to meet the families of those we have harmed and to express our condolences”.
The report follows a five-yearly review of US compliance with an international treaty on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
“The US can and should do more to protect children affected by armed conflict,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, , a watchdog based in New York. She called on the US to heed the committee’s recommendations, which include taking “concrete and firm precautionary measures and prevent indiscriminate use of force” to ensure that no more civilians and children are killed.
USFOR-A said that insurgents killed or injured nearly 3,500 civilians in 2012, 84 percent of the total, while Nato forces were responsible for about eight percent. Agencies