KABUL - The United Nations on Tuesday announced an increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan, indicating its plan to hold talk with the Taliban on the issue. UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, linked the rise in civilian casualties to increasing insurgent attacks.
Addressing a news conference in Kabul, the top UN diplomat said up to 2,499 civilians had been killed or wounded in the past six months.
Nearly 1,900 non-combatants had suffered casualties in the corresponding period in 2012, showing a 24 percent upsurge, the UNAMA chief recalled.
Children constituted about 21 percent of civilian casualties, 74 percent of them caused by militants and nine percent by government forces, Kubis said.
During the first half of the current year, target killings also went up by 42 percent, compared with the past year, he said, without giving any figures.
“Is there any pride for targeting civilians and what kind of bravery is it? In the past I avoided saying this, but now I have to: Fight against the people who fight you, not civilians,” he remarked.
“I can confirm, we have formally evinced an interest in talks with the Taliban regarding the reduction of civilian casualties, as well as human rights issues,” the UN diplomat said.
Kubis added the Taliban had also signaled their willingness for discussions on such issues, a move welcomed by the world body. He said the process would get under way in the near future, but gave no specific date. (Pajhwok)