Civilian deaths in Afghanistan hit record high: UN


A U.S. soldier, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, stands outside a military base in Panjwai, Kandahar province, south of Kabul, on Sunday.

United Nations (UN) figures show that the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan’s long-running conflict hit a record high of 1,692 fatalities in the first six months of 2018.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, said in a report published on Sunday that the death toll was one percent higher than a year earlier and the highest since the group began keeping records in 2009.

Militant attacks and bombings were reported as the leading causes of the deaths in the war-torn country.

Another 3,430 civilians sustained injuries in the conflict, down by five percent from the same period last year, according to UNAMA.

Overall civilian casualties — 5,122 — fell three percent year on year.

The UN mission, established at the request of the Afghan government, said the record high death toll came despite an unprecedented ceasefire between Afghan security forces and the Taliban militants last month.

On June 9, the Taliban announced in a statement that they had agreed to a week-long truce deal proposed by the Afghan government for Eid al-Fitr, which marked the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

After the truce period terminated, Taliban militants rejected a government-proposed ceasefire extension and attacked security forces in numerous districts of eastern and southern Afghanistan.

Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end when the US and its allies invaded the country on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.

Despite the continued presence of foreign troops across the country, the Taliban have been involved in widespread militancy, killing thousands of civilians as well as Afghan security forces and displacing tens of thousands of people across the country ever since.

Daesh has also taken advantage of the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan to establish a foothold in the country and recruited some of its members from among Taliban defectors.

Dozens of Taliban militants killed in Kunduz

Meanwhile, Afghan government forces killed at least 36 members of the Taliban militant group in the country’s northern province of Kunduz on Saturday evening.

Abdul Baqi Noristani, the provincial police chief, said the militants were killed during Afghan security forces’ airstrikes and ground operations in Chardara district of Kunduz, adding that at least ten other militants were also wounded.

The Kunduz police chief said several Taliban hideouts were targeted and the militants suffered heavy casualties during the Afghan airstrikes.

Noristani did not offer details about potential casualties among Afghan civilians or security forces.