Civilian death toll at recod high, latest UN report shows

The United Nations has warned against a sharp rise in civilians casualties amid violence in Afghanistan, saying over 5,000 people were killed or wounded in the war-torn country in the first half of this year.

In its mid-year report published on Monday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said 1,662 Afghan civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured from January 1 to June 30.

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

“The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal improvised explosive devices is particularly appalling and must immediately stop,” he warned.

The reports highlights that 40 percent of all civilian casualties during the six-month period were caused by anti-government forces using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were responsible for 596 civilian deaths and 1,483 injuries.

The figures include civilian casualties from bombings and “complex attacks” – involving more than one perpetrator and two or more forms of weaponry, including IEDs – which killed 259 civilians and injured 892, up by 15 percent compared to the first half of the previous year.

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

The deaths in Kabul accounted for nearly 20 percent of the toll, according to the UN report.

The majority of the victims were killed by the Taliban militants and the Daesh Takfiri group, the report said.

Women and children have borne the brunt of the increase in civilian casualties, with UNAMA blaming the use of IEDs and aerial operations in populated areas for the jump.

A total of 174 women were killed and 462 injured — an overall rise in casualties of 23 percent on last year — while 436 children were killed in the same period, representing a nine percent increase, the report said.

Afghanistan has been gripped by violence and insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

During the past 16 years, the Taliban militants have been conducting terrorist attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians.

In addition, the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, has recently managed to take recruits from Afghan Taliban defectors.

Militants are now launching attacks on both Pakistani and Afghan soil.

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