'Unprecedented' Afghan civilian casualties in July-September: UN

Kabul (AFP) –


An "unprecedented" number of civilians were killed or wounded in Afghanistan from July to September this year, the United Nations said in a new report released Thursday, calling the violence "totally unacceptable".

The figures -- 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injured -- represent a 42 percent increase over the same time period last year, the report said, laying most of the blame for the spike at the feet of "anti-government elements" such as the Taliban.

July alone saw more casualties than in any other month on record since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began documenting the violence in 2009, the report said.

The first six months of the year had seen casualties drop somewhat compared to previous years.

But the violence has surged so far in the third quarter that it yanked the overall total for the year back on par with the bloodiest since NATO withdrew its combat forces at the end of 2014.

The UN recorded 8,239 civilian casualties in total in the first nine months of 2019 -- 2,563 killed and 5,676 injured.

Some 41 percent of them were women and children, UNAMA said.

"Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable," especially given most parties recognise that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN's special representative in the country.

The figures show the need for peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement, he added.

"The impact of Afghanistan's conflict on civilians is appalling," said Fiona Frazer, UNAMA's Human Rights Chief.