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Afghan civilian casualties hit all-time high, says UN

07 February 2017

Violent clashes between Afghan security forces and militants, particularly in populated areas, resulted in a record number of civilian casualties past year. On the insurgent side, the Islamic State group in the Khorasan province (ISKP) is responsible for a 10-fold increase in civilian casualties (209 deaths and 690 injured), from 2015. "These figures amount to a three per cent increase in total civilian casualties compared to 2015", the report said.

The group's spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, in an email to Pajhwok Afghan News said the civilian casualties had been misjudged in the United Nations report.

"The killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians is deeply harrowing and largely preventable", Tadamichi Yamamoto, the United Nations' Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan told a news conference unveiling the figures [PDF link here].

At least 899 deaths and injuries were attributed to Islamic State, which has been a relatively minor faction in Afghanistan, but past year launched an increasing number of suicide attacks.

Javid Faisal, an Afghan government spokesman, blamed the militants for most of the casualties, adding that the government has taken many measures to avoid civilian casualties.

Afghan security forces caused about 20 percent of the casualties, while pro-government militias and worldwide forces caused 2 percent each.

Within hours Afghan forces bolstered by reinforcements and air support repelled the militants, though fighting continued in the outskirts. They also documented a 10-fold increase in casualties - 899 deaths and injuries - caused by IS militants, who past year launched an increasing number of suicide attacks.

"We are very sensitive and careful about civilian casualties, this report is incomplete and we reject it", he said.

"The increased capacity of Daesh/ISKP to strike beyond its perceived areas of influence and presence in eastern Afghanistan exacerbated the escalation in conflict and deteriorating security environment", the report says.

Afghan civilian casualties hit all-time high, says UN