Afghan security forces are dying at five times the rate of NATO soldiers as Taliban insurgents step up attacks ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014, the latest figures show.
While deaths among NATO’s troops are regularly chronicled in the 50 countries that contribute soldiers to the war, the daily casualties among the Afghans they are fighting alongside rarely make headlines.
A total of 853 Afghan soldiers and police were killed in the past four months, government figures show, compared with 165 NATO troops, according to a tally kept by the website icasualties.org.
President Hamid Karzai warned in May that the Afghan death toll would increase as the U.S.-led troops start withdrawing and hand increasing responsibility for security to Afghan forces.
Both NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghanistan’s interior ministry have noted a surge in attacks in recent months since the start of the Taliban’s annual summer offensive.
“Enemy-initiated attacks over the last three months (April-June) are 11 percent higher compared to the same quarter last year,” ISAF said in a report last week.
The month of June alone saw the highest number of attacks in nearly two years, with more than 100 assaults a day across the country, including firefights and roadside bombings, the U.S.-led coalition said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Siddiqi said at the weekend that there had been a surge in casualties suffered by police in the past four months, with 635 killed and 1,246 wounded.
“This year, the enemies of Afghanistan have intensified their attacks against Afghan security forces,” he said.
“We have increased our operations against the enemy and they also intensified their attacks,” he said, adding that 1,730 insurgents had been killed over the same period.
The upturn comes as NATO countries have already started to withdraw their 130,000 troops after more than 10 years of war and ahead of a 2014 deadline for an end to combat operations.