United Nations records highest number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan for any year

United Nations records highest number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan for any year

It says that between January 1 and December 31, 2016, the mission documented 11,418 civilian casualties - 3,498 deaths and 7,920 wounded.The United Nations said civilian casualties from fighting last year in Afghanistan hit their highest level since the organization began systematically gathering such data eight years ago.

UNAMA documented 899 civilian casualties (209 deaths and 690 injured) in comparison to 82 civilian casualties (39 deaths and 43 injured) in 2015.

More than 900 children were killed in Afghanistan's conflict last year, the United Nations said Monday, calling it the most violent year for children since it started keeping records. The increase was put down to a surge in casualties from unexploded bombs, shells, grenades and landmines.

Airstrikes by Afghan and worldwide forces caused 590 civilian casualties (250 deaths and 340 injured) - the highest since 2009.

The UN's special envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said the new figures were "deeply harrowing" and highlight "the gruesome reality of the conflict". Both Afghan government forces and the Taliban are responsible for failing to clear civilian-populated areas of explosive remnants from the fighting.

With U.S. -led global forces operating mainly in an advisory role, and a third of Afghanistan's population either living under Taliban control or in contested areas, ground battles are becoming increasingly frequent and deadly.

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The Taliban, which has been fighting the central government since 2001, called United Nations findings biased.

President Ashraf Ghani's office said that he welcomed the report but that security forces already take measures to protect civilians.

The growing toll was also due to increased attacks by fighters loyal to Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim militant group based in Iraq and Syria, which has mainly attacked minority Shiite Muslims.

At least 899 deaths and injuries were attributed to Islamic State, which has been a relatively minor faction in Afghanistan but previous year launched an increasing number of suicide attacks.

IS loyalists conducted extremist activities in Afghanistan under its local name, Islamic State Khorasan Province or ISKA.

The report also said that 2016 recorded the most deaths and injuries from air strikes since 2009.

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