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1,662 civilians killed in first 6 months of 2017: UN

1,662 civilians killed in first 6 months of 2017: UN

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Jul 17, 2017 - 13:28

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): At least 1,662 civilians were killed in the first six months of 2017, showing an increase of two per cent over the same period last year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistaninfo-icon (UNAMA) said on Monday. 

In a half-yearly report on civilian casualties, the UN mission said the number of civilians injured during the period fell by one per cent to 3,581. Extreme harm to civilians continued amid a worsening toll from suicide attacks.

 “The human cost of this ugly war in Afghanistan – loss of life, destruction and immense suffering – is far too high,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.

The top UN diplomat in the country added: “The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal improvised explosive devices is particularly appalling and must immediately stop.”

Forty per cent of civilian casualties were caused by anti-government forces, using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices, which were responsible for the deaths of 596 civilians and injuries to 1,483. 

The figures include civilian casualties from suicide and complex attacks -- involving more than one perpetrator and two or more forms of weaponry, including suicide IEDs.

At least 259 civilians were killed and 892 injured in such incidents, indicating a 15 per cent spike on comparable figures for the first six months of 2016, according to the report, which said womeninfo-icon and children were the worst-hit.  

Many of those casualties occurred in a single attack in Kabul on May 31, when a truck bomb killed at least 92 civilians and injured nearly 500, the deadliest incident documented by UNAMA since 2001.

The UN report urged anti-government forces to stop targeting civilians and to enforce directives from the Talibaninfo-icon leadership calling for an end to such attacks.

Government forces were asked to stop using weapons, including mortars and rockets, in civilian populated areas, and to disband pro-government militias and similar other groups. 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said: “The statistics in this report, horrifying though they are, can never fully convey the sheer human suffering of the people of Afghanistan...” 

The number of women and children killed and injured rose, reversing a decline documented in 2016.  A total of 174 women were confirmed killed and 462 injured -- an overall rise in casualty figures of 23 per cent.  

Child casualties went up by one per cent, with 436 deaths and 1,141 injuries recorded, although the number of child deaths was up by nine per cent.  The mission noted the use of pressure-plate IEDs and aerial operations in civilian-populated areas contributed to the increases in women and child casualties.

Militants were blamed for the deaths of 1,141 civilians and injuries to 2,348, a 12 per cent increase on the first six months of last year. The casualties represent 67 per cent of the total civilian deaths and injuries, with 43 percent attributed to the Taliban.

Five per cent of casualties were attributed to the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) and the rest to unidentified attackers.  Afghan forces were praised for their continued efforts to cut civilian casualties from ground engagements. 

The figures demonstrate a 10 per cent reduction in civilian casualties from ground engagements in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period last year, with 434 confirmed deaths and 1,375 injuries.

A total of 327 civilian deaths and 618 injuries were attributed to pro-government forces, a 21 per cent decrease compared with the same period last year, although UNAMA noted a 43 per cent rise in civilian casualties in aerial operations (95 deaths and 137 injuries). 

Nineteen per cent of the casualties occurred in Kabul, as a result of suicide and complex attacks.  Civilian casualties increased in 15 provinces, mainly due to increased attacks by anti-government forces.

The highest numbers of casualties occurred in Kabul, Helmand, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Uruzgan, Faryab, Herat, Laghman, Kunduz and Farah provinces.  

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