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More than 8,000 Afghan civilian casualties, so far this year: UN

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New York | Thursday, Oct 11 2018 IST
At least 8,050 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of 2018, according to UN figures released on Wednesday.

"As there can be no military solution to the fighting in Afghanistan, the United Nations renews its call for an immediate and peaceful settlement to the conflict to end the suffering of the Afghan people," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. "All parties can and should do their utmost to protect civilians from harm, including by making concrete progress toward peace",reports news 8000.com.

The report indicates that the leading cause of civilians killed and injured from the armed conflict remained the combined use of suicide and non-suicide improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by anti-government elements.

"UNAMA recalls that attacks deliberately targeting civilians and the murder of civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law that amount to war crimes," it said in the report.

The report furthermore documents how the use of suicide IEDs increased in frequency and in lethality, causing record high civilian casualty levels in the first three quarters of 2018.

The report attributed 65 percent of casualties to the Taliban, Daesh and other anti-government forces.

As casualties from suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices rose, casualties from ground fighting fell by 18 percent to 2,311 (605 deaths and 1,706 injured). At the same time, there was a 39 percent rise in the number of casualties from airstrikes, which have risen as air operations have been ramped up, to 649 (313 deaths and 336 injured).

The number of civilians -- mostly women and children -- killed or injured by airstrikes in Afghanistan has risen a startling 39% year on year, according to UN figures released Wednesday, casting fresh scrutiny on the use of air power by the United States and its Afghan partners at a time of near-record bombing and increasing violence.

More civilians have been killed or injured in airstrikes so far this year than all of last, according to a United Nations quarterly assessment of civilian casualties. The UN report shows airstrikes, carried out by both US and Afghan aircraft, have killed or injured 649 civilians so far this year, 39% higher than the same first nine months in 2017, and more than the 631 killed or injured by airstrikes in all of last year. Sixty percent of this year's casualties have been women and children, according to the report.

The report also says that total civilian deaths across Afghanistan -- due to various violent attacks -- stands at 2,798 for the first nine months of this year, slightly up on the same period in 2017.

US and Afghan aircraft are almost equally responsibility for the casualties, according to the report..

According to the UN report, anti-government elements are still responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths and injuries, accounting for 65% of casualties overall so far this year.

In response to the report, US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Cmdr. Grant Neeley reiterated that anti-government elements were the main cause of civilian casualties.

"Indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians through improvised explosive devices and deliberate suicide attacks has increased in both frequency and lethality. These actions expose the hypocrisy of Taliban who espouse a high regard for this country and its people while creating an environment of death and insecurity."Figures given to CNN by the Afghan Ministry of Defense show more than 800 airstrikes since the end of June were carried out by the Afghan Air Force, a body of light aircraft and pilots trained and equipped over the past two years by the US. The Pentagon has asked Congress for $1.8 billion to train and equip the AAF in 2019.

The figures show thousands of insurgent deaths reported in under four months. Such official Afghan figures are often considered inflated by some experts, and the Afghan Ministry of Defense does not appear to publicly tally civilian casualties.

The airstrikes recorded include the use of machine gun fire and bombs by the Afghan Air Force's planes and helicopters, which mostly deploy less accurate, non-guided munitions that are more likely to cause unintended civilian deaths.

Mohammad Radmanish, an Afghan Defense Mignistry spokesman, told CNN that the air force "rarely uses" guided bombs in their airstrikes, listing only four provinces in which they had been used, and saying they had no record of the total number deployed.

Radmanish said he doesn't accept his country's air force is responsible for civilian casualties.

"Whenever there are civilian's casualties, it happens from insurgents' side. Either they plant bombs or they use civilians [as human shields] in their fight," he told CNN.

In just the last month, the Afghan Air Force carried out 237 airstrikes, according to the defense ministry, which says it killed more than 1,300 insurgents in the strikes.

But the constant toll on civilians by this peak in air power is growing, and has been palpable in the past weeks.

.

"We are keenly aware of the continued practice by insurgents to use close proximity of civilians, often by force, to prevent air strikes and counterattacks on their positions," said Col. David Butler, US Forces Afghanistan spokesman. "When these situation are identified in time, our forces respond appropriately by choosing not to attack to protect innocent lives," Butler added.

"We're the most precise military in world existence. We train the Afghans to operate by the same standard. Though still in its infancy, the Afghan Air Force continues to grow in size and capability."UNI XC KPV RJ 0002

-- (UNI) -- C-1-DL0442-1547522.Xml

 
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