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Red Cross Warns About Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is urging all sides to respect humanitarian law in Afghanistan, noting there have been at least 250 civilian casualties in attacks since July 4.

The head of ICRC's delegation in Kabul, Franz Rauchenstein Wednesday released a statement calling on all parties in the conflict to distinguish at all times between civilians and fighters and to take constant care to spare civilians.

Red Cross officials say civilians should never be targeted, unless they are taking a direct part in fighting.

The Red Cross also says it is concerned about the reportedly high number of civilian casualties resulting from air strikes in eastern Afghanistan. Afghan lawmakers have also condemned civilian casualties in last week's U.S.-led coalition air raid in Nuristan province.

On Monday a suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul killed 41 people and wounded more than 150 others. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Wednesday said he had no evidence foreign agents were involved in the attack. Afghan officials this week suggested Pakistan's government was involved.

Separately Wednesday, U.S. Marine Colonel Peter Petronzio said his troops have killed 400 insurgents in southern Helmand province since launching an operation against them three months ago.

And the head of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, Aziz Lodin told reporters today the presidential election planned for 2009 could be postponed if the security situation in the country does not improve.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.