U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war reached 2,000 on Saturday — a cold reminder of the human cost of an 11-year-old conflict as the U.S. prepares to withdraw most of its combat forces by the end of 2014.

The toll climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police — supposed allies against American and NATO troops. On Sunday, a U.S. official confirmed the latest death, saying an international service member killed in an apparent insider attack by Afghan forces in the east of the country late Saturday was American.

In addition to the 2,000 Americans killed since the Afghan war began on October 7, 2001, at least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries have also died, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organisation that tracks the deaths.

According to the Afghanistan index kept by the Washington-based research centre Brookings Institution, about 40 per cent of the American deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. The majority of those were after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge that sent in 33,000 additional troops to combat heightened Taliban activity. The surge brought the total number of American troops to 101,000, the peak for the entire war.

Tracking deaths of Afghan civilians is much more difficult. According to the U.N., 13,431 civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began keeping statistics, and the end of August. Going back to the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, most estimates put the number of Afghan civilian deaths in the war at more than 20,000. — AP

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