Afghan war civilian casualties hit record levels

  • 15/02/2016
Afghan security forces at a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan (Reuters)
Afghan security forces at a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan (Reuters)

Civilian casualties of the war in Afghanistan hit record levels for the seventh year in row in 2015, as violence spread across the country in the wake of the withdrawal of most international troops.

Figures from the United Nations, released on Sunday, show at least 3545 non-combatants died and another 7457 were injured by fighting last year, a four percent jump over 2014.

"The harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable," Nicholas Haysom, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

Fighting between Western-backed government forces and insurgent groups meant more non-combatants are being caught in the crossfire, investigators wrote, pointing to two developments in particular which pushed casualties up.

Heavy fighting in the northern city of Kunduz, which briefly fell to the Taliban in late September, and a wave of suicide bombs which killed and wounded hundreds of people in the capital Kabul last year were the main factors behind the rise, while elsewhere casualties fell.

"In most parts of Afghanistan in 2015, civilian casualties decreased," Danielle Bell, director of the UN human rights programme in Afghanistan, told a news conference.

Ground engagements were the leading cause of civilian casualties at 37 percent, followed by roadside bombs at 21 percent and suicide attacks at 17 percent.

Women and children were hard hit, as casualties among women spiked 37 percent while deaths and injuries increased 14 percent among children.