The Afghan war has claimed 15 percent more civilian lives in the first half of this year than in the same period a year ago, the United Nations said.

From January to June, 1,462 civilian deaths were reported, four-fifths of them caused by insurgents, the report said. It singled out the "dramatic growth" in the use of improvised explosive devices.

There were 368 civilian deaths in May, the largest number since U.N. officials began tracking noncombatant fatalities five years ago. June had nearly as many deaths: 360.


A suicide bomber who had concealed explosives in his turban struck a Kandahar mosque where a memorial service was being held for the assassinated half brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The attack killed at least four people and could mark the start of a violent power struggle following Ahmed Wali Karzai's death.

The dead included a prominent cleric and a child, the Interior Ministry said. President Karzai was not at the service, having returned to Kabul after his half brother's funeral.