UN reports rise in Afghan civilian casualties

Report finds sharp rise in violence against civilians, especially women and children, as international forces withdraw.

    Women and children have been increasingly hit by violence during the 12-year-old war [AFP]
    Women and children have been increasingly hit by violence during the 12-year-old war [AFP]

    Violence against civilians is on the rise in Afghanistan as international forces hand over security to Afghans, the UN has said.

    The organisation put the mid-year toll of civilians killed at more than 1,300 in a report published on Wednesday.

    The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said 1,319 civilians died and 2,533 were injured as a result of the war from January 1 to June 30, up 23 percent from the same period in 2012.

    The report said more women and children had become victims of the 12-year-old war, seeing a 38 percent increase in casualties.

    Bomb attacks remain the highest cause of civilian casualties, claiming 53 percent more victims than last year, most of them children.

    Increased ground fighting between Afghan troops and fighters was the second leading cause, putting the death toll in crossfire at 207.

    The UN said 74 percent of the casualties were caused by fighters, nine percent by pro-government forces and 12 percent as a result of ground fighting between the two sides.

    The remaining four or five percent of civilian casualties were unattributed, caused mainly by explosive remnants of war, it added.

    The report also noted increased numbers of clashes between unaligned armed groups, a recurrence of the insecurity in the 1990s that enabled the Taliban to take control.

    Official body

    Mounting casualties raise questions about how Afghan government troops can protect civilians as US-led NATO troops withdraw newt year following the 12-year war against the Taliban.

    Fighters have stepped up attacks on security forces, particularly in areas where international bases have closed.

    Casualties caused by a security force known as the Afghan Local Police, set up in 2010 to operate in remote, insecure areas, rose by more than 60 percent, according to the UN.

    Members of the force have been accused of murder, torture and rape, many communities, however, reported that they owed an improvement in security to the police.

    The report called on the Kabul government to set up an official body to investigate allegations of casualties immediately, and warned that NATO needs to keep a mechanism for probing civilian casualties after 2014

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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