KABUL - Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 23 percent during the first six months of the current year, the United Nations said on Wednesday, blaming most of the deaths and injuries on improvised explosive device (IEDs) attacks.
In its mid-year report, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented 1,319 civilian deaths, compared with 1,158 a year earlier. More women and children became victims of the 12-year-old conflict.
The number of children killed over the past six months went up by 30 percent, compared with the same period last year, said the UN mission, which alleged the Taliban continued to cause the vast majority of the casualties.
From January to June, the report said, 2,533 civilians were injured, compared with 1,976 in 2012. Militants escalated assaults on security forces, particularly in areas where foreign bases had closed, the UNAMA said, blaming both sides for civilian fatalities.
The report attributes 74 percent of civil casualties to fighters, up by 16 percent over the same period last year. Pro-government forces were found responsible for nine percent of casualties, with 12 percent of the casualties unattributed.
Ján Kubiš, the secretary-general’s special representative, voiced his concern over the increasing collateral damage . Parties to the conflict must do more to better protect civilians who were increasingly being killed and injured in the cross-fire, he observed.
Also head of UNAMA, Kubiš said: “The increase in the indiscriminate use of IEDs and the deliberate targeting of civilians by anti-government elements is particularly alarming and must stop.”
The main factor driving the increase was the use of IEDs, responsible for 35 percent of deaths and injuries. Altogether 443 civilians were killed and 917 were injured from IEDs, a 34 percent increase over the same period in 2012.
According to the document, tactics involving IEDs, including suicide and complex attacks, accounted for 52 percent of all civilian casualties. Combat between Afghan forces and rebels accounted for 25 percent of civilian casualties.
Director of UNAMA’s Human Rights Unit Georgette Gagnon regretted the plight of children and women. "The growing loss of life and injuries to Afghan women and children in 2013 is particularly disturbing. Deaths and injuries to women and children increased by 38 percent in the first half of 2013..."
Conflict-related violence killed 106 women and injured another 241, an increase of 61 percent over 2012. Similarly, 231 children were killed and 529 injured -- a 30 percent increase from last year. (Pajhwok)