Afghan Civilian Casualties Hit First Half Record, UN Says
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The number of Afghan civilians killed or wounded in the first half of 2016 reached a record high as the country’s conflict intensified with the Taliban insurgency gaining momentum, according a United Nations report on Monday.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 1,601 civilian deaths and 3,565 injured in the six months through June, an increase of 4 percent compared to the same period last year and the highest since the agency began counting in 2009.
In total, the war in Afghanistan has killed or maimed 63,934 people since the UN began compiling the data, Bloomberg reported.
The conflict against the Taliban, now in its 15th year, has cost the US more than $700 billion and killed more than 2,300 American soldiers, with the increasingly bloody fighting forcing US President Barack Obama this month to slow troop withdrawal plans.
“The violations laid bare in this report set in motion a cascade of potential human rights abuses that stretch from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean and beyond, as so many Afghans are driven to seek refuge abroad, taking enormous risks,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. “Parties to the conflict must cease the deliberate targeting of civilians and the use of heavy weaponry in civilian-populated areas.”
While anti-government forces caused 60 percent of the casualties in the first half, the UN said at least 1,180 were attributed to forces allied with Kabul’s government, a 47 percent increase from the same period last year. Most were due to ground engagements, with suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices the second largest cause.