KABUL – The number of civilians killed and injured in airstrikes in Afghanistan so far in 2017 rose by 52 percent compared to the same period last year, despite an overall decline in civilian casualties that constitutes the first fall since 2012, reported the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on Thursday.
Of the 205 who have been killed and the 261 who have been injured since January in aerial bombings, 68 percent were women and children, the UN said in its report.
This year’s total civilian casualties in the conflict were 2,640 killed and 5,379 injured, a six-percent decline that was welcomed by the UN, although the organization added that civilian deaths continue to remain at very high levels.
“The six-percent overall reduction in civilian casualties arose primarily from a substantial decline in the number of civilians killed and injured by pro-government forces during ground fighting against anti-government elements,” explained UNAMA.
The decrease in the number of casualties in such clashes was 15 percent, explained the UN.
Government troops and their allies were responsible for 228 deaths and 621 injured civilians – a 37-percent drop compared to last year – while insurgents left 255 dead and 895 injured, or seven percent more.
In total, the number of deaths caused by insurgents was 1,760, while those injured were 3,407, with 66 percent of the cases attributed to the Taliban movement, 10 percent to the Islamic State terror organization and the remaining 24 percent to “unidentified anti-government elements.”
Since UNAMA began keeping count of all civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict in 2009, the figures had been increasing until 2012, when a decline was recorded; however, figures have continued to rise ever since until this year.