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Rights Commission: Afghan War Kills 1,325 Civilians This Year

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An Afghan rights group says more than 1,300 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed so far this year, an increase of about five percent from this time last year.

Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission said Sunday the Taliban is responsible for 68 percent of the 1,325 deaths, while Afghan and NATO troops were to blame for 23 percent.  

The commission said responsibility for the other civilian deaths could not be determined.

Meanwhile, Afghan officials say a suicide car bomber struck a police convoy in the western province of Herat Sunday, killing at least three officers and wounding others.  Officials say a separate blast hit an Afghan police convoy in southern Kandahar province.

Also Sunday, the bodies of 10 medical team members gunned down in Badakhshan province a few days ago were flown to Kabul.   

The victims were six Americans, a German, a Briton and two Afghans. They had been working for a Christian aid group, International Assistance Mission.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the killings in a statement Sunday, calling the murders a despicable act of wanton violence.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings, accusing the aid group of spying and seeking to convert Muslims to Christianity.

International Assistance Mission denies the accusations.

The group's director, Dirk Frans, said he last heard from the medical team Wednesday as it was returning to Kabul from an eye clinic in Nuristan province.  He said the team traveled through neighboring Badakhshan believing it to be safer.  

Frans said Afghan officials informed him they had found the bullet-riddled bodies of the aid workers near a forest on Friday.

The gunmen spared an Afghan driver who told police he begged for his life by reciting verses of the Koran.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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