KABUL, Afghanistan: Civilian injuries in Afghanistan’s long war with the Taliban rose last year, with women and children again bearing the brunt of the violence, the United Nations said in a report on Sunday.
A total of 3,545 civilians were killed in 2015 as a result of the war, the U.N. report said, with another 7,457 wounded.
The figures mark a 4-percent drop in civilian deaths, but a 9-percent rise in civilian injuries, compared to 2014.
The U.N.’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said 2015 had the “highest number of total civilian casualties recorded by UNAMA since 2009.”
It also said that 10 percent of civilian casualties were women, up 37 percent from the year before. It says 25 percent were children, up 14 percent.
Most were caught in crossfire, it said.
The annual report, titled Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, is based on on-site investigations where possible.
It attributed 62 percent of all civilian casualties to anti-government elements, which includes the Taliban who have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government for 15 years.
Another 17 percent were blamed on pro-government forces and 2 percent on international military forces. The U.S.-NATO combat mission ended in 2014, with troops reduced to around 13,000. While they officially have a “train, advice, assist” mandate, the U.S. forces regularly conduct air strikes to back up Afghan forces, and are empowered for “force protection,” which can see them engage in self-defensive combat.
The UNAMA report highlighted large-scale attacks in the capital Kabul, particularly two suicide attacks on Aug. 7 that it said caused 355 civilian casualties, including 43 dead and 312 wounded. “This was the highest number of civilians killed and injured in one day since UNAMA began systematically recording civilian casualties in 2009,” it said.
The Taliban’s assault on the northern city of Kunduz, on Sept. 28, also caused significant civilian casualties, it said, with 493 civilian deaths and 1,392 injured during weeks of fighting after the insurgents took control. The vast majority of the casualties were the result of ground engagements between the government forces and insurgents between Sept. 28 and Oct. 13, it said.