The number of Afghan civilian casualties have fallen for the first time in at least five years, dropping by 15 percent during the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year, the United Nations said Wednesday.
A total of 1,145 Afghan non-combatants lost their lives in violence, mostly insurgent attacks, between January 1 and June 30 this year compared to 1,510 in 2011, the UN said. Another 1,954 civilians were wounded, it said.
The United Nations said that marked a 15 percent decline on the 3,654 casualties documented during the same period in 2011.
"This reduction of civilian casualties reverses the trend in which civilian casualties had increased steadily over the previous five years," the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report, warning that the war "continued to take a devastating toll on civilians".
The United Nations said the Taliban and other insurgents fighting against the Western-backed government were responsible for 80 percent of the casualties -- a decline of 15 percent on the same period last year.
Pro-government forces, which include the 130,000 troops serving as part of a US-led NATO force, were blamed for 10 percent of the casualties -- a decline of 25 percent.
The remaining 10 percent was attributed to unknown groups.
About 30 percent of this year's casualties were women and children -- up one percent from the same period in 2011 who were mostly killed or wounded in Taliban roadside bombings known as IEDs, the insurgents' weapon of choice.
"Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remained the leading cause of conflict-related deaths of women and children followed by ground engagements," the United Nations said.