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UN Says Afghan Civilian Death Toll Soaring So Far This Year

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan soared by 17 percent in the first half of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013, according to a new UN report.

In all, the UN said 1,564 civilians were killed from January through June, compared with 1,342 in the first six months of 2013. That included a 21 percent jump in the death toll for children, with 295 killed so far this year.

So far this year, clashes, rockets, and mortar strikes killed more civilians than roadside bombs and suicide attacks -- evidence, the UN said, that fighting is increasingly taking place closer to homes in populated areas.

In the past, most civilian casualties were blamed on roadside bombs.

The UN said the Taliban and other insurgents continued to be the main cause of civilian casualties.

The worrying trend comes ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. and allied combat troops by the end of 2014.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP