United Nations condemns jump in Afghan civilian deaths

1,662 civilians died in Afghanistan in 6 months UN

More women and children were also among the dead this year.

"In the first half of 2017, more civilian deaths and injury from suicide and complex attacks were documented by UNAMA than any previous six month period since the mission began systematic documentation of civilian casualties in 2009", the report said.

UNAMA highlights that 40 percent of all civilian casualties during the six months were caused by antigovernment forces using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices - or roadside bombs.

In its latest mid-year report issued on Monday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) confirmed a total of 1,662 civilian deaths between January 1 and June 30 - majority from a devastating attack in late May - up 2 percent over the same period last year. Afghan forces killed 434 civilians and injured 1,375, a 10 percent decrease from a year ago.

"The human cost of this ugly war in Afghanistan - loss of life, destruction and enormous suffering - is far too high", Tadamichi Yamamoto, the United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, said in a statement. The report attributed the increase in civilian deaths in almost half of 34 provinces in Afghanistan to the rise in attacks by the anti-government forces.

Casualties among women rose by 23 per cent, while child casualties increased by one per cent.

The leading causes of casualties among women were attacks, including suicide bombings, in highly populated civilian areas like Kabul, the capital.

"The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal IEDs [improvised explosive devices] by anti-government elements is particularly appalling and must immediately stop".

Deaths in the capital Kabul accounted for almost 20 percent of the toll.

The UN High Commissioner added: "Each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering and the brutal violation of people's human rights".

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the "biased" report, saying it did not take into account civilians killed by Afghan and coalition forces in areas controlled by the Taliban. That figure highlight the deteriorating security situation in the country, more 15 years after the USA -led invasion that ousted the Taliban.

Mohammad Arif, a former Afghan National Army officer, told Anadolu Agency that with an evident surge in ground engagements near densely populated urban centers, government forces need to avoid using heavy weapons where there is a risk of civilian casualties.

The shocking figures comes as Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, the all-purpose mercenary army, along with Stephen Feinberg, a New York-based financier who owns and controls, DynCorp International, the largest US contractor in Afghanistan, consider plans to turn the war on Afghanistan into "private military units", according to The Nation.

The figures demonstrate a 10 per cent reduction in civilian casualties from ground engagements the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period past year, with 434 confirmed deaths and 1,375 injuries.

It also recommended ongoing support from worldwide military forces to support and train the Afghan national army.



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