A mind-numbing total of 739 children died in conflict-related security incidents in Afghanistan in 2010, rights watchdog Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) said in its annual report on Wednesday.

According to the report, about 64 percent of the reported child deaths were attributed to the armed opposition groups (AGOs) while US/NATO forces were blamed for 17 percent of the deaths.

While more as many as 2,421 civilian Afghans were killed in the war last year, around 30 percent of the casualties were children under 18.
A majority of the children were killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), suicide attacks, air strikes and mortars, said the report titled Civilian Casualties of War 2010.

While war-related child deaths in 2010 were significantly lower than a year before (1,050 deaths in 2009), the overall child casualties and rights violations trends remained strong. Children were highly vulnerable to the harms of war but little was done by the combatant sides, particularly by the AOGs, to ensure child safety and security during military and security incidents, said the report.

Security incidents involving children were reported from all regions of the country while Kandahar, Helmand, Kunar and Kunduz were among the least secure provinces.

At least 13 children were killed in the first 10 days of massive US/NATO military operations in Marjah and Nad Ali districts in Helmand Province in February 2010, the report says.

A big majority of the victims were boys but at least 105 underage females were also killed. An IED attack in Kandahar city on 15 December killed three children and wounded six others. A suicide attack on 20 November in front of the health department in Laghman Province killed two and wounded six other children.