U.S. says continued Afghanistan attacks show Taliban's disregard for human life

An increase in civilian casualties from 2012 to 2013 in Afghanistan demonstrates the Taliban's disregard for human life, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Marie Harf, the State Department's deputy spokesperson, made the remarks on Wednesday during a daily press briefing. Harf responded to a question about the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's recent report that civilian casualties were up 23 percent in the first six months of 2013 compared to the previous year. Harf said that approximately 75 percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan are caused by insurgents and improvised explosive devices.

"As the report shows, the vast majority - I think it's about three-quarters - of all civilian casualties are still caused by insurgents despite urging from the U.N. to reduce civilian casualties," Harf said. "And IEDs remain the single largest killer of Afghan children, women, and men in this conflict. Again, these continued attacks show that the Taliban attacks show disregard for human life, and of course, we are concerned about that."

Harf also responded to a question about Pakistan, given that the majority of IEDs purportedly originate in Pakistan. When asked if the U.S. was satisfied with the steps Pakistan is taking on IEDs, Harf said the U.S. would continue to work with Pakistan on the issue going forward.

"We have very good cooperation on counterterrorism issues with the Pakistanis," Harf said. "But obviously, we'll continue to talk about issues of cross-border militancy and the reality that safe havens that threaten both Pakistan and Afghanistan and U.S. interests and regional stability are operating in that area. So we're going to continue working with the Pakistanis on this issue going forward."