In Afghanistan UN accuses troops of causing more civilian casualties

UN investigators reported that casualties caused by pro-government forces rose to 42 per cent compared to last year

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Afghan men carry a wounded man at a hospital after a bomb blast in northern Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan October 12, 2016. play

Afghan men carry a wounded man at a hospital after a bomb blast in northern Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan October 12, 2016.

(Reuters)
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The United Nations has said that Afghan civilians are paying the price for increased fighting in populated areas around the country, with government troops responsible for a growing share of civilian casualties.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement in Kabul that no fewer than 2,562 civilians died and another 5,835 were wounded in the conflict in Afghanistan in the first nine months of this year.

The officials said a similar number of civilian casualties occurred in the same period in 2015, indicating rates may be levelling off at near-record levels after steadily increasing since the UN began monitoring them in 2009.

“Ground fighting between pro-government forces and Islamic militants caused nearly 40 per cent of all the casualties.

“Children have been particularly hard hit by the fighting, with 639 young people killed and 1,822 wounded, for an increase of 15 per cent over last year,’’ he said.

Yamamoto said the Taliban and a handful of smaller groups have been fighting to topple the Western-backed government, 15 years after the Taliban lost power in a U.S.-led military operation.

He said the increased fighting in densely populated areas made it imperative for parties to take immediate steps to ensure all feasible precautions are being taken to spare civilians from harm.

Yamamoto said the UN investigators reported that casualties caused by pro-government forces rose to 42 per cent compared to last year, with 623 deaths and 1,274 injured.

“That includes a spike of 72 per cent in casualties from air strikes by the Afghan air force and its international allies.

“At least 133 people were killed and 159 were injured in air strikes, with two-thirds of those casualties attributed to the Afghan air force,’’ he said.

The representative said the report showed that Taliban and other militant groups still accounted for more than 60 per cent of the overall casualties, with 1,569 civilian deaths and 3,574 injured.

Yamamoto said UN condemned anti-government attacks that have directly targeted civilians, including a bombing in Kabul, in July that killed at least 85 people and injured 413.

He said the attack was claimed by Islamic State.

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