Campaigners seek cut in global civilian bombing toll

30th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

About 10,000 civilians have been killed or wounded by bombings in populated areas over the past six months, campaigners said on Wednesday as they launched a global drive to cut the civilian toll in conflicts.

"Our ongoing monitoring of bombings in populated areas paints a grim picture: around 10,000 direct civilian deaths and injuries in 63 countries in the past six months," said Katherine Harrison, one of the authors of a report by Action On Armed Violence (AOAV), the former anti-landmines campaign group.

Representatives of a new network formed by human rights and humanitarian groups including AOAV, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children UK, Handicap International and Oxfam believe that the use of explosive devices in populated areas has lost some of the stigma attached to it and become too commonplace.

They pointed to the alleged shelling of urban areas in Libya, fighting in Ivory Coast's Abidjan, as well as some Nato bombings in Afghanistan, truck bombs in Pakistan and attacks in the Gaza Strip among recent examples.

"We're seeing a pattern related to explosive weapons in populated areas which we think should change some of the assumptions that are being made," explained Richard Moyes.

About 20 percent of 100 incidents surveyed in 63 countries over the past two years involved bombings by states, but 60 percent involved non-state armed groups, said researcher Esther Cann. The rest could not be attributed.

© 2011 AFP

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