Over 3400 civilians killed in 2017 in Afghanistan

Over 3400 civilians killed in 2017 in Afghanistan

The number of civilians killed and wounded decreased by 9 percent in 2017, compared to the previous year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office said in an annual report released on February 15.

Overall, more than 10,000 civilian casualties - 3,438 people killed and 7,015 injured - were documented in 2017, one of the deadliest years in the recent history of the country, reeling from the insurgency now entering its 17th year.

Despite the general decline in the number of civilian casualties, the United Nations expressed deep concern over the 17 per cent rise in victims of suicide and similar attacks with 2,295 victims as against 1,963 registered in 2016.

Pro-government forces caused a fifth of civilian casualties with 16 percent attributed to Afghan forces, 2 per cent to global forces and 1 percent each to pro-government armed groups and undetermined pro-government forces, the United Nations said.

Yamamoto, who also heads UNAMA, expressed deep concern at the increased harm to civilians caused by suicide attacks.

The UN says terrorist attacks in major cities by the Islamic State militants were behind the rise.

"The people of Afghanistan, year after year, continue to live in insecurity and fear, while those responsible for ending lives and blighting lives escape punishment", he said in a statement.

"Such attacks are prohibited under global humanitarian law and are likely, in most cases, to constitute war crimes".

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The deadliest attack since the United Nations mission began recording civilian casualties in 2009 was in Kabul on May 31 when a suicide attacker detonated a truck bomb, killing 92 civilians and injuring 491.

"It has indeed been a hard year". The remaining third were killed either during military action between the Afghan army and militants or in air strikes by the USA and worldwide allies.

UNAMA also documented an increase in attacks against places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers, recording 499 civilian casualties with 202 deaths and 297 injured, during 38 such attacks in 2017.

Although casualties among children decreased by 10 per cent to 861 dead and 2,318 injured, casualties among children still account for 30 per cent of all civilian casualties throughout the year.

In 2017, women continued to suffer at levels comparable to 2016.

"We can not sleep day and night due to the frightening sounds of firing", an 11-year-old girl injured by a bullet during a ground engagement in Arghandab district, Zabul province in September, told UNAMA.

Another 33 percent of the casualties have been blamed on ground engagements between Afghan forces and anti-government elements while the rest were caused by targeted killings, explosive remnants of war and airstrikes by government forces and their foreign partners.

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