KABUL, (Xinhua) — The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Tuesday expressed deep concerns over increasing attacks on the religious places and leaders, the UNAMA said in a statement.
Earlier on Tuesday, the mission released a special report documenting a sharp increase in attacks against places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers, including attacks on Shiite Muslim worship places and congregations, the statement read.
“Since 1 Jan. 2016, UNAMA has recorded 833 civilian casualties (261 killed and 572 injured) in 42 attacks targeting places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers. Civilian casualties from these types of attacks since the beginning of 2016 represent nearly double the cumulative total documented between 2009 and 2015,” the statement said citing the report.
“Respect the law, stop targeting worshippers and religious leaders,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, was quoted as saying.
Yamamoto commended the recent efforts of the Afghan government to protect places of worship and urged the government “to take all necessary measures to protect all Afghans, especially those vulnerable to sectarian attacks, to exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief and to worship in safety.”
The report also called on anti-government elements to immediately cease targeting worshippers and religious leaders.
More than 2,640 civilians were killed and over 5,370 others injured in conflict-related incidents in first nine months of the year, according to figures released by the UNAMA.