World

Number of Afghan civilians killed in 2012 declines but deaths blamed on insurgents increase

  • An Afghan child plays on the barrel of a Soviet tank in the Behsood district of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb 18, 2013. Despite being a mineral-rich country, four decades of war have left Afghanistan as one of the least developed countries in the world and highly dependent on foreign aid. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

    An Afghan child plays on the barrel of a Soviet tank in the Behsood district of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb 18, 2013. Despite being a mineral-rich country, four decades of war have left Afghanistan as one of the least developed countries in the world and highly dependent on foreign aid. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)  (The Associated Press)

  • Afghan children play on the remains of a Soviet tank in the Behsood district of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb 18, 2013. Despite being a mineral-rich country, four decades of war have left Afghanistan as one of the least developed countries in the world and highly dependent on foreign aid. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

    Afghan children play on the remains of a Soviet tank in the Behsood district of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb 18, 2013. Despite being a mineral-rich country, four decades of war have left Afghanistan as one of the least developed countries in the world and highly dependent on foreign aid. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)  (The Associated Press)

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan says airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition killed 126 civilians last year, a nearly 50 percent drop from the year before.

Tuesday's report comes a day after President Hamid Karzai banned Afghan forces from asking for air support amid anger over the killing of five children, four women and a man in a strike last week.

The report says the overall civilian death toll in 2012 dropped 12 percent to 2,754. But it expressed concern about a spike in targeted killings and human rights abuses, a worrisome trend as the U.S. and allies prepare to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014.

The report also says the Taliban and other insurgents increasingly targeted civilians and were responsible for 81 percent of civilian casualties last year.