By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Raging violence in Afghanistan killed and wounded over 10,000 people last year, with a dreadful rise in the number of women and child casualties, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office stated on Thursday.
The UNAMA documented that, in 2017, 359 women were killed -- a rise of five percent -- and 865 injured. Child casualties -- 861 killed and 2,318 injured -- decreased by 10 percent compared to 2016. 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.
The UN Mission has been documenting civilian casualties in Afghanistan since 2009 and has so far confirmed a massive total of 28,428 in the bloody Afghan conflict.
“The chilling statistics in this report provide credible data about the war’s impact, but the figures alone cannot capture the appalling human suffering inflicted on ordinary people, especially women and children,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
Yamamoto, who also heads UNAMA, expressed deep concern at the increased harm to civilians caused by suicide attacks: “I am particularly appalled by the continued indiscriminate and unlawful use of IEDs, such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices in civilian populated areas. This is shameful.”
The report attributes close to two-thirds of all casualties (65 percent) to anti-government elements: 42 per cent to the Taliban, 10 per cent to Daesh / Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP), and 13 percent to undetermined and other anti-government elements.
Pro-government forces caused a fifth of the civilian casualties according to the report, with 16 percent attributed to the Afghan national security forces, two per cent to international military forces, one per cent each to pro-government armed groups and undetermined pro-government forces.
Unattributed cross-fire during ground engagements between anti-government elements and pro-government forces caused 11 percent of the civilian casualties.
This comes as the Taliban on their propaganda site published, a day earlier, “an open letter to the ‘the American people, officials of independent non-governmental organizations and the peace-loving Congressmen”.
“The American people must understand that the Islamic Emirate understands its responsibility and can play a constructive role in finding a peaceful solution for issues but this can never mean that we are exhausted or our will has been sapped," the letter stated.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said during a press conference on Sunday that the Taliban-claimed Jan. 27 attack near a public hospital, in which over 100 people got killed, was “Afghanistan’s 9/11”.
Ghani also declared that doors for talks with the Taliban would be closed for an unlimited time, and those bent upon terrorism would be eliminated.