The UN has reported a sharp rise in the number of women and children killed or injured in Afghanistan's conflict between government forces and armed groups, including the Taliban.
In a report published on Wednesday, the UN's Assistant Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that the total number of casualties had increased by one percent this year, compared to the same period in 2014, which was the deadliest year since the UN began keeping track of the figures in 2009.
The number of women casualties rose by 23 percent and children by 13 percent, compared to the same period last year.
Dominic Medley, a UNAMA spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that the significant increase in women casualties could be blamed on a combination of factors, including more ground fighting and a rise in indiscriminate weapons used in conflict.
Al Jazeera's Qais Azimy, reporting from Kabul, categorised the indiscriminate violence as mainly mortar and rocket attacks by government forces, and the Taliban's use of suicide bomb attacks and IEDs.
Afghanistan has has seen a major increase in fighting around residential areas since NATO withdrew all of its forces at the end of 2014.
As a result of the withdrawal, the Taliban, as well as other anti-government fighters, have managed to take over more towns and villages, especially in the north of the country, which has forced the military to engage in clashes in residential areas, leading to more civilian casualties.
Azimy said that government attacks that missed the fighters would often hit houses, where women spend much of their time due to cultural norms.
Our correspondent said the bulk of the deaths and injuries of female civilians can be blamed on IEDs, which missed their targeted military vehicles and instead struck public tranport vehicles.
"It is not a custom for women to drive in the country, so they have to use buses, which are regularly hit by the blasts," he said.
Afghanistan is now witnessing its fourteenth year of conflict.
Source: Al Jazeera