KABUL (Pajhwok): For the first time in the 18-year conflict, more civilians have been killed by Afghan and international forces than by militants, the UN said on Wednesday.
Foreign and pro-government forces were blamed for the deaths of 305 civilians and rebel outfits for 227 people in the first three months of 2019, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.
In a quarterly report, the UN mission linked most of the civilian deaths to airstrikes and search operations. Both Afghan security forces and international troops were asked to conduct investigations into allegations of civilian casualties.
The Afghan forces and their allies were also urged to publish the results of their findings unto the civilian killings and provide appropriate compensation to the victims.
The fighters were held responsible for the majority of the killed and wounded civilians combined. The civilian casualties were put at 1,773, falling from 2,305 during the same period last year.
From Jan. 1 to March 31, 581 civilians were killed and 1,192 wounded. Of the 305 civilian deaths blamed on pro-government forces, nearly half resulted from in airstrikes. The rest of fatalities were tied to cross-fire, such as during search operations.
Rebel assaults left 736 civilians wounded, compared to 303 injured by government and international forces.
In the report, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative, was quoted as saying “A shocking number of civilians continue to be killed and maimed each day.”
While asking the insurgents to stop targeting civilians and using improvised bombs, he called upon pro-government forces to take immediate measures to mitigate the rising death toll and suffering caused by airstrikes and search operations.
UNAMA documented four suicide attacks that killed or wounded 178 civilians during the first three months of the year, against 19 incidents that caused 751 civilian casualties during the same period in 2018.
The fall in suicide attacks came amid negotiations between US and Taliban representatives on how to end the 16-year war in Afghanistan.
But the UNAMA the report said it was unclear whether the decline in casualties resulted from the talks or from any measures taken by parties to the conflict to protect civilians.