Afghan war claims record number of civilian lives

Frederick Owens
July 17, 2017

In May, a truck bomb in the heart of the capital, Kabul, detonated by a suicide attacker, killed at least 92 people and wounded almost 500 in what the United Nations called the "deadliest incident documented" since the worldwide military intervention that toppled the Taliban in 2001. The report notes that the increase in aerial operations and the use of pressure-place devices in civilian-populated areas led to an increase in women and child casualties as well.

Anti-government forces caused the deaths of 1,141 civilians and injured 2,348, up 12 percent over the first six months of past year.

"The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal improvised explosive devices is particularly appalling and must immediately stop", he added in a statement. It was the single deadliest incident documented by UNAMA since 2001, according to the report.

At 67 per cent of the total, the highest number of casualties, 1,141 deaths and 2,348 injuries, was caused by anti-government forces, mainly the Taliban.

In total, anti-government forces killed 1,141 civilians and injured 2,348, a 12 percent increase from a year ago.

A total of 174 women were killed and 462 injured - an overall rise in casualties of 23 percent on a year ago - while 436 children were killed in the same period, representing a nine percent increase. Afghan forces killed 434 civilians and injured 1,375, a 10 percent decrease from a year ago.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the "horrifying" statistics of the report.

"Many Afghan civilians are suffering psychological trauma, having lost family and friends, and are living in fear knowing the risks they face as they go about their daily lives".

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"The continuing national tragedy of Afghanistan must not be overlooked". Meanwhile, 436 children were killed and 1,141 others injured, marking a 9 percent increase in child deaths.

The report concludes with recommendations to the Government of Afghanistan, anti-government groups and worldwide military forces offering aid to "support their efforts to protect civilians, prevent civilian casualties and uphold their obligations under global humanitarian and human rights law".

Pro-government forces were responsible for 327 civilian deaths and 618 injuries, a 21 per cent decrease compared with the same period previous year, although UNAMA noted a 43 per cent rise in civilian casualties during aerial operations (95 deaths and 137 injuries).

This reflects the growing number of attacks across the country.

The UNAMA report noted 40 percent of all civilian casualties were due to anti-government forces using IEDs.

"The decrease is attributed to a reduction in casualties caused by indirect and/or explosive weapons, mostly mortars, used by pro-government forces", UNAMA said.

UN Mission said its figures only include incidents confirmed after a thorough verification process and the actual figures could be higher.

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