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U.N. condemns Afghan attack that killed at least 46

  • Afghans bury their dead loved ones on the outskirts of Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Scores of  people, including the attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    Afghans bury their dead loved ones on the outskirts of Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Scores of people, including the attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • Afghan army soldiers stand around a killed Taliban, dressed as an Afghan Army soldier, in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. At least 53 people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    Afghan army soldiers stand around a killed Taliban, dressed as an Afghan Army soldier, in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. At least 53 people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • Afghan army soldiers stand around a killed Taliban, dressed as an Afghan army soldier, in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    Afghan army soldiers stand around a killed Taliban, dressed as an Afghan army soldier, in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • An Afghan army soldier stands guard in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    An Afghan army soldier stands guard in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • Afghan Army soldiers search the main courtroom in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Scores of people, including the attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    Afghan Army soldiers search the main courtroom in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Scores of people, including the attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • Afghan Army soldiers patrol the surroundings of the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of  people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    Afghan Army soldiers patrol the surroundings of the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • An Afghan army soldier stands guard in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    An Afghan army soldier stands guard in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • An injured Afghan man is evacuated to an Afghan Army helicopter in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

    An injured Afghan man is evacuated to an Afghan Army helicopter in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

  • Afghans bury their dead loved ones on the outskirts of Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Scores of  people, including the attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)
  • Afghan army soldiers stand around a killed Taliban, dressed as an Afghan Army soldier, in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. At least 53 people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)
  • Afghan army soldiers stand around a killed Taliban, dressed as an Afghan army soldier, in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)
  • An Afghan army soldier stands guard in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)
  • Afghan Army soldiers search the main courtroom in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Scores of people, including the attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)
  • Afghan Army soldiers patrol the surroundings of the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of  people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)
  • An Afghan army soldier stands guard in the destroyed courthouse in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)
  • An injured Afghan man is evacuated to an Afghan Army helicopter in Farah, western Afghanistan, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners in western Afghanistan, officials said. Tens of people, including the nine attackers were reported killed in the fighting. The assault in Farah province was the latest example of the Taliban's ability to strike official institutions despite tight security measures. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

Afghan officials released harrowing new details yesterday about an attack in a western province where assailants shot everyone in their path, sending terrified people jumping from windows trying to escape the assailants who killed at least 46 civilians and security forces.

Civilians have frequently been caught up in the fighting between militants and Afghan and U.S.-led combat forces, but the U.N. condemned Wednesday’s attack, saying civilians were deliberately targeted at the courthouse and other government offices in Farah province. Two judges, six prosecutors, administration officers and cleaners working at the site were among the dead, the U.N. said.

Also yesterday, NATO reported that an American F-16 fighter jet had crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing the U.S. pilot. The U.S.-led military coalition did not release further details about Wednesday’s crash.

“While the cause of the crash is under investigation, initial reporting indicates there was no insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash,” the coalition said in a statement.

Illustrating other dangers, an airstrike by U.S.-led forces mistakenly killed four policemen and two brothers as their car was being searched at a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said yesterday.

The strike occurred in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, according to district chief Fazel Ahmad Toolwak. He said NATO troops were fighting Taliban militants about 6 miles away, but those killed in the strike were not involved in that battle.

A NATO spokesman, U.S. Army Maj. Adam Wojack, said the international military coalition was looking into the report, adding it “takes all allegations of this type seriously.”

According to a recent U.N. report, 2,754 Afghan civilians were killed last year – down 12 percent from 3,131 killed in 2011. But the number killed in the second half of last year rose, suggesting that Afghanistan is likely to face continued violence as the Taliban and other militants fight for control of the country as foreign forces continue their withdrawal.

The U.N. said the Taliban and other insurgents were responsible for 81 percent of the civilian deaths and injuries last year, while 8 percent were attributed to pro-government forces. The remaining civilian deaths and injuries could not be attributed to either side.

The number of casualties blamed on U.S. and allied forces decreased by 46 percent, with 316 killed and 271 wounded last year. Most were killed in U.S. and NATO airstrikes, although that number, too, dropped by nearly half last year to 126, including 51 children.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Farah, the capital of the province of the same name near the border with Iran.

The hospital in Farah was so overwhelmed with casualties that helicopters had to ferry some of the wounded to other hospitals in nearby areas.

Provincial Gov. Akram Akhpelwak said two more people had died from the attack, raising the death toll to 55 – 36 civilians, 10 Afghan security forces and nine attackers. More than 100 people also were wounded, he said.

One of the province’s members of parliament, Humaira Ayobi, said one elderly man was found hiding in a bathroom, afraid to come out.

“Farah is a city of sadness,” she said in a telephone call after attending a funeral for some of the victims. “The stores are closed. There’s no traffic in the streets.”

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