Organized crime-related deaths in one Mexican border state during the first nine months of 2011 exceed the number of Afghan civilians killed in roughly the same period in all of war-torn Afghanistan.
According to the Mexican government, from January through September 2011 2,276 deaths were recorded in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which borders Texas and New Mexico.
A Nov. 2011 Congressional Research Service (CRS) reportstates that over nearly the same period – January through October 2011 – 2,177 civilians were killed in Afghanistan, where a U.S.-led war against the Taliban is underway. It did not provide a breakdown of responsibility for that period, but said that in 2010, 75 percent of civilian deaths were attributed to the Taliban and other “anti-government elements.”
Per capita, a person was at least nine times more likely to be murdered in Chihuahua last year than in Afghanistan. (Chihuahua has 3,406,465 inhabitants, according to Mexico’s 2010 census; the CIA World Factbookreports that in July 2011 the estimated population of Afghanistan was 29,835,392.)
According to the reported numbers, the drug-related murder rate was about 67 for every 100,000 inhabitants in Chihuahua last year, while in Afghanistan the civilian killing rate was an estimated seven for every 100,000 people living there.
There were more drug-related killings in Chihuahua than in any other Mexican state, according to the government figures. Chihuahua, the largest state in Mexico, includes Ciudad Juarez, a border city located across from El Paso, Texas. It is the deadliest city in Mexico and is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world.
According to the government tally, Juarez accounted for 1,206 (about 53 percent) of the 2,276 drug cartel-related murders in Chihuahua during the fist nine months of 2011.
The state capital, the city of Chihuahua, was also among the five deadliest cities in Mexico over that period, with 402 homicides reported.
The organized crime-related deaths in Mexico – officially referred to as homicides due to rivalry between delinquent organizations – include executions, deaths from encounters with authorities, direct aggression attacks, and killings stemming from violence between organized trafficking groups, according to the country’s government.
Its figures show that a total of 12,903 drug-related homicides took place across the country during the first nine months of 2011, taking Mexico’s drug-war death toll to 47,515 since President Felipe Calderon began a militarized crackdown on organized crime in December 2006.
Again comparing the Mexican and Afghanistan figures, the CRS report shows that 11,007 Afghan civilians were killed from 2007 through October 2011. That is about 80 percent fewer deaths than the 47,515 drug-related murders in Mexico over roughly the same period (December 2006 through September 2011).
Even if Afghan National Army (1,933) and police (3,834) fatalities are added to the civilian death toll the total number of deaths in Afghanistan over that period – 16,774 – is still almost three times smaller than the Mexican figure.
A total of 1,757 U.S. soldiers have died in and around Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces invaded in Oct. 2001 to topple the Taliban after its al-Qaeda allies attacked the U.S. homeland the previous month.
According to CNSNews.com’s detailed tally, which is derived primarily from Department of Defense reports, there were 399 U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan during 2011, the second deadliest year of the war. (There were 497 deaths in 2010.)