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High Casualties in Afghanistan in 2010; Bombing at Pakistan Funeral Kills at Least 36; NPR CEO Schiller Resigns

A new U.N. report says 2,700 civilians died in Afghanistan in 2010, a 15 percent increase from 2009. The report said NATO was responsible for 16 percent of those deaths, a figure that was highlighted by the deaths of nine Afghan boys last week. Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have apologized for their deaths.

A Taliban spokesman disputed the figures. Qari Yusuf Ahmadi told the BBC “Foreign forces are responsible for civilian casualties.”

The report showed a 105 percent jump in the killing or abduction of government officials and aid workers. Included in that group were civilians that were believed to have supported the Afghan government or NATO forces.

Twenty-one percent more children were killed in 2010. Fighting is expected to worsen this year.

Suicide Bomber Kills At Least 36 At Pakistan Funeral

A suicide bomber, whom witnesses said appeared to be in his late teens, blew himself up at a funeral near Peshawar attended by anti-Taliban militiamen. At least 36 are dead an estimated 100 wounded in the attack.

A Taliban spokesman said the funeral was targeted because attendees were allied with the Pakistani government and its ally, the United States.

It was the deadliest in a series of attacks in northwest Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan, where insurgent activity is especially pervasive.

Copts, Muslims Clash in Cairo, At Least 11 Dead

Coptic Christians and Muslims clashed near Cairo overnight Wednesday, leaving 11 people dead in fighting after a church was burned. More incidents of arson have followed in surrounding neighborhoods. The dispute reportedly was spurred by an interfaith relationship. A highway in Cairo was shut down by the violence, the most serious the country has seen since weeks of revolution drove former president Hosni Mubarak from power. Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population and claim discrimination.

NPR CEO Resigns

Vivian Schiller, President and CEO of National Public Radio, has resigned days after a video surfaced online showing Ron Schiller, NPR’s senior vice president for fundraising, (who had announced his own resignation in recent weeks) criticizing Republicans and calling the Tea Party “racist.” Vivian Schiller and Ron Schiller are not related.

The video was released by conservative political activist James O’Keefe and was secretly recorded at a lunch with Ron Schiller, NPR executive Betsy Liley, and two men claiming to represent a Muslim philanthropic organization interested in donating to NPR. In the video, he calls the Tea Party “Islamaphobic” and “xenophobic,” and also says NPR would be “better off without federal funding” in the long-run at a time when some in Congress have proposed cutting funds for public broadcasting.

The news follows a flap over NPR’s October firing of commentator Juan Williams after he made comments on Fox News about feeling uneasy seeing people dressed in “Muslim garb” on airplanes.

Read NPR’s statement on Schiller’s resignation here.

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