Posted: Wednesday, 12 June 2013 8:20AM

Afghan Civilian Deaths Soar in 2013



iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- How are national forces in Afghanistan faring against the Taliban after taking over most of the security responsibilities from U.S. and NATO troops?

According to a new report by the United Nations, the effectiveness of Afghan soldiers and police leaves something to be desired.

The international body said that nearly 3,100 civilians were killed in war-related violence during the first five months of 2013, an increase of 24 percent from the same period one year ago.

Jan Kubis, the U.N.'s special representative for Afghanistan, remarked, "The situation of civilians in the country and conflict-related civilian casualties are, indeed, not going in the right direction.  On the contrary, the situation has worsened."

"All of this shows a continuing, strong disregard for the fate of civilians by the insurgents," Kubis said.

It also underscored worries that many Afghans have about how well their own forces can protect them when coalition forces withdraw their troops sometime in 2014, as presently scheduled.

The Taliban is expected to intensify its offensive in the run-up to foreign soldiers leaving Afghanistan as well as prior to next year's general elections, when voters pick a new president and parliament.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio