International News

Wars Rack Up High Human Cost
by Calvin Woodward, Associated Press Writer, June 12, 1999
Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 07:41 pm CST


(AP) - Only as Kosovo comes under international control will officials get any firm sense of how many ethnic Albanians were killed by Serb forces during the conflict. Only with time may the world find out how many Serbs were killed by NATO bombs.

This much seems clear: The conflict was not the worst this decade in terms of life lost, but neither was the toll light. It is likely more people died in Yugoslavia than were killed in 30 years of strife in Northern Ireland. Yet other recent wars, some not very far away, claimed hundreds of thousands or more.

Death tolls or estimates in a sampling of conflicts fought in the 1990s:

AFGHANISTAN: 2 million, 1979-1992: Soviet-backed coup put pro-Moscow regime in power, backed by more than 100,000 Soviet soldiers. Rebel groups drove Soviets out and seized power, turning against each other. Civil war continues between Taliban militia and alliance of opposition forces.

ALGERIA: 75,000, 1992-1998: An insurgency touched off when the army canceled elections the Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win. In April, Algeria got its first civilian chief of state since 1965, and steps are being taken to bring the banned Islamic front back into the political mainstream.

ANGOLA: 500,000, 1975-1999: Civil war between the government and UNITA rebels first erupted after Angola's 1975 independence from Portugal and resumed in December after a four-year pause. Peace accords signed in 1991 and 1994 both collapsed. Some 780,000 Angolans have been displaced this year.

BOSNIA: 250,000, 1991-1995: Military conflict and civilian massacres after the breakup of Yugoslavia, settled with U.S.-brokered peace deal.

BURUNDI: 200,000-250,000, 1993-1999: Ethnic fighting has raged since the 1993 assassination by Tutsis of the first democratically elected president - a Hutu - and a coup in 1996 that brought a Tutsi government to power.

CHECHNYA: 18,000 to 100,000, 1994-1996: Fighting between Russian soldiers and Chechen rebels, ending with Chechnya running its own affairs but no country recognizing its independence claim.

COLOMBIA: 30,000, 1960s-1999: Thousands die yearly in violence perpetrated by drug traffickers, leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitary squads and wayward army soldiers in a decades-long struggle. The country's ombudsman says civilian massacres rose 16 percent last year, to 1,200, and more than 300,000 people were displaced by violence. Colombia has seen a recent rash of high-profile kidnappings but also moves to negotiate with the largest rebel group, FARC.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: unknown, 1998-1999: A continuing border war, one of Africa's worst conflicts, with each country claiming to have killed tens of thousands of soldiers on the other side, but no reliable estimates.

GUATEMALA: 200,000, 1960-1996: Civil war ended with peace agreement between leftist rebels and the government.

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS: 125,000, 1948-1997: The private Center for Defense Information's count since the establishment of Israel as a modern state.

KOSOVO: Western officials believe as many as 5,000 Serb soldiers or police died; Serb sources have cited a civilian death toll of about 2,000 and at least 500 deaths among their security forces. An estimated 2,000 people died under a crackdown on Kosovo's ethnic Albanian rebels before NATO started bombing. Among NATO forces, two Americans died in a helicopter training mission in northern Albania.

LIBERIA: 150,000, 1989-1997: Civil war sparked by rebellion to oust ethnic dictatorship. Democratic government installed, but sporadic armed clashes have followed.

NORTHERN IRELAND: 3,250, 1968-1998: Street clashes between Catholic protesters and Protestant police, leading in 1970 to the start of bombings and shootings by the Irish Republican Army and then random killings by Protestant groups.

PERSIAN GULF WAR: 4,500 to 45,000, 1991: Widely disputed even now, the estimated civilian death toll from allied bombing has been put as low as 2,500 by U.S. officials and as high as 35,000 by Iraq. Estimates of Iraqi military deaths also vary widely, starting at about 1,500. U.S. officials say 147 Americans died in action during the Desert Storm bombing and ground campaign; 289 more died in accidents before and during the war and related Gulf operations since.

RWANDA: 500,000 to 800,000, 1994: A 90-day slaughter of Tutsis or moderate Hutus by soldiers, militia and others under the influence of the Hutu government, finally put down by Tutsi-led rebels.

SIERRA LEONE: 14,000, 1991-1999: Continuing war between the Revolutionary United Front and the government, with the rebels backed by an ousted military junta and the government by a Nigerian-led intervention force. Latest peace talks began in May.

SPAIN: 800, 1961-1999: Basque separatists declared a cease-fire in September in their armed campaign for independence, although it has come under strain after a police crackdown and incidents of fire bombings and street violence.

SRI LANKA: 58,000, 1983-1999: Tamil rebels have been fighting the government for an independent homeland in the small island nation.

SUDAN: 1.5 million-1.9 million, 1983-1999: Rebels from the Christian and animist south have been fighting for autonomy from the Arab and Muslim north in a conflict marked by famine.

TURKEY: 37,000, 1984-1999: Kurdish rebels have been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey, using guerrilla bases in northern Iraq. Guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan is being tried for treason and the parliament has approved a government that has pledged to crush the insurgency.

Sources: The Associated Press, State Department, Center for Defense Information, World Almanac.



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