KABUL (Pajhwok): On average 70 people were killed and wounded daily in the past five months in Afghanistan, with a third of causalities happening in October. But causalities declined later on as the fighting season came to an end.
According to Pajhwok Afghan News reports based on different sources, 5,887 people were killed and 4,410 wounded in 777 attacks in the last five months of 2016.
Most of these causalities resulted from face-to-face fighting and airstrikes.
Reports showed of each 17 casualties, one was killed or wounded in suicide attacks and one in targeted attacks. Of every 12 casualties, one was caused by roadside bombings and other types of blasts.
Defence Ministry’s deputy spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Radminsh said the surge in causalities from face-to face-fighting and airstrikes showed Afghan forces had become stronger, inflictingmore casualties on the enemy.
“One thing I want to make it clear is that Afghan security personnel suffered causalities only in landmine explosions,” he added.
Gen. ® Zalmai Wardak, a defence analyst, said a large number of personnel from both parties to the conflict were involved in the fighting and it was the reason behind the surge in causalities resulting from hand-to-hand combat.
“It is true the Afghan Air Forcehas emerged strong, but at the same time some of its personnel are inexperienced and sometimes they are provided wrong reports,leading to raids on residential areas and unintended targets. This causes causalities,” he said.
Level of insecurity in provinces
According to reports, half of the 777 attacks took place in Nangarhar, Helmand, Kandahar, Faryab, Kabul and Farah provinces and 50 percent in 25 other provinces of the country. Pajhwok did not get violence-related report from Panjsher, Bamyan and Daikundi during the period.
About the provinces where more raids took place,the MoD spokesman said: “These provinces were strategically important.For instance, trafficking of arms, drugs and human is underway in Helmand and the enemy wants to benefit from theillicit business in strengthening its influence there. In Nangarhar, there is poppy cultivation that the enemy uses to boost its revenue.”
Gen. Wardak said there were other reasons behind the growing violence in these provinces.For example, in Nangarhar, Daesh want to strengthen its foothold.
He linked an increase in poppy cultivation to insecurity in Helmand and Nangarhar provinces.
According to a survey by the Counter-Narcotics Ministry and United Nation Officer on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than half of Afghanistan’s opium crop was cultivated in Helmand. Nangarhar is among the top five poppy-growing provinces.
Wardak said unity was main reason behind no incident of violence in Panjsher province. Residents of Daikundi and Bamyan, belonging to the Hazara community, did not want to create problems for themselves, he remarked.
Militants, security forces and civilians, including women and children, were among the casualties during the last five months, but Pajhwok could not find exact figures because there were conflicting claims from different sides.
In the last five months, of every 10 casualties, three happened in Nangarhar, Helmand and Kunduz provinces and one in Samangan. The number of causalities declined in Maidan Wardak and Nimroz.
Pajhwok could not have ascertain the number of causalities among security forces, militants and civilians in first seven months of 2016 or during the same period in 2015 to make comparisons with causalities in the last five months of the outgoing year. Reports, however, show October2016 was the deadliest month. The number of causalities, however, declined.
Most casualties took place on October 8 and September 6 when nearly 1,000 people were killed and wounded in three days.
The MoD deputy spokesman did not reveal the number of people killed and injured in the past five months but said: “We dispatched press releases to media outlets. From them, you can get the number of casualties.”
About sudden surge and decline in the number of attacks and causalities, he said it was the part of fighting tactics that sometimes fighting surged and sometimes declined.
In October, the militants did all they could to increase attacks that resulted in more causalities, he explained. October was the last month of the fighting season when the insurgents tried their best to stage as many attack as possible.
He said after October the weather turned cold and trees leaves fell, making it difficult for militants to hide. Subsequently, their attacks decreased.
Radminsh said the Taliban had set their eyes on capturing 60 districts and eight provinces during the fighting season this year but failed to succeed in their plans.
He said the security forces’strength and resources had not affected the level of causalities in the past five months, because there had been no change in their numbers. They have been provided more resources. Some 13,000 NATO forces have been stationed in Afghanistan for the past year.
Wardak sees war tactics as a crucial factor behind the ebb and flow of conflict.
He said: “There are different factors behind the surge and decline in fighting. Factional warfareoften drags on and results in higher causalities. This last month, there was short-term guerrilla war, with fewer casualties.”
“Stop fighting” is the voice of Afghans who have lost relatives and loved ones to the ongoing war.
Ahmad Milad, a 16-year-old 9th grader from Farah City whose father was killed in a targeted attack two months ago, said: “For God’s sake, please stop fighting and killing and let children and youth live a peaceful life with their families like their counterparts in other countries.”
He hatesthe war because millions of Afghan children, including him, have lost their fathers and their families are left without guardians.
Milad said: “My father was a police official; our life has been nightmarish ever since his killing. Three other brothers and a sister of mine ask me daily where our father is.”
Obaiduallah Barakzai, a lawmaker from Uruzgan province whose young son Hafizullah Pasoon was killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul on December 21, said: “To me, my child’s loss is not more important than the killing of others. But as a father, I’m very aggrieved. I’m equally shocked by the security forces and ordinary people who are killed in the country on a daily basis.”
He said Afghans were the victims of the ongoing fighting and effort should be made to void their killing.
According to another Pajhwok report, 15 foreign soldiers, most of them Americans, were killed in Afghanistan in 2016.
Barakzai asked leaders of the unity government to put aside differences and devise a strategy for rescuing Afghanistan and stopping the killing of Afghans.
He called on the government and Taliban to honestly embrace reconciliation and not to scarify their children to please outsiders.
The lawmaker asked the US and other foreign countries to honour their pledges regarding the development of Afghanistan and an end to the war, avoidingthe politics of duplicity on the Afghan issue.