The war in Afghanistan is becoming deadlier, killing 10 percent more civilians during the first 10 months of 2009 compared to the previous period last year, according to UN figures.
Figures released to AFP by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) show civilian deaths in the first 10 months of 2009 at 2,038, up from 1,838 for the same period of 2008, an increase of 10.8 percent.
The figures show that the vast majority, or 1,404 civilians, were killed by insurgents, who are fighting for the overthrow of the government of President Hamid Karzai and to eject Western troops.
UNAMA said that 468 deaths were caused by pro-government forces, including NATO and US-led forces, and 166 by "other actors".
The war blighting Afghanistan is now into a ninth year and has escalated over the course of 2009 as more international troops have been injected into the theatre, leading to more battles with Taliban-led militants.
More than 110,000 foreign troops are battling the insurgency, under US and NATO command, with that figure set to rise to around 150,000 by late 2010 with the arrival of another 30,000 US and 6,800 NATO troops.
The Taliban is increasingly relying on homemade bombs to fight foreign and Afghan troops, although they exact a horrific toll on civilians.
Militant leaders rarely claim responsibility for incidents that kill large numbers of civilians.
US General Stanley McChrystal, who commands the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has made it a central tenet of his new strategy that civilian casualties should be minimised.