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July 27, 2017

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More women and children are dying in Afghanistan: UN

The number of civilian casualties from the war in Afghanistan remains at a two-year high, said a report by the U.N. on Monday which also described a sharp rise in the number of women killed or injured.

A total of 1,662 Afghan civilians were killed and 3,581 others were injured between January and June this year, the mid-year report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.

The number of deaths increased by 2 percent while injuries dropped by 1 percent compared to the same period last year.

Casualties among women rose by 23 percent, while child casualties increased by 1 percent.

At 67 percent of the total, the highest number of casualties was caused by anti-government forces, mainly the Taliban.

The figure saw a 12-per-cent increase compared to the same period of 2016, with the Taliban militants responsible for 43 percent of casualties, Islamic State for 5 percent and unidentified attackers for the rest.

Forty percent of the casualties were caused by bombs, mines planted by the roadside and suicide vests. This reflects the growing number of attacks across the country.

According to the report, of great concern is the 15 percent increase in suicide and complex attacks that killed 259 and injured 892. A massive truck bombing in the capital Kabul on May 31 accounted for most of that increase.

"Each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering, and the brutal violation of people's human rights," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.

A widowed mother of two children who are presumed to have been killed in the May 31 Kabul bombing was quoted in the report as saying: "I was living alone with my two sons and now they are missing. I don't know what to do. I don't know where to find them."

The devastating bombing was one of the worst since 2001, killing 150 and wounded 460 others.

Civilian casualties due to aerial operation by both Afghan and US forces increased 43 percent compared to the same period last year, pointing to the increasing use of air power to support the Afghan security forces fighting a resilient insurgency.

"The human cost of this ugly war in Afghanistan – loss of life, destruction and immense suffering – is far too high," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.

"The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal improvised explosive devices is particularly appalling and must immediately stop."

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