Kabul, April 24 (IANS) Afghan and foreign troops killed more civilians than insurgent groups in the war-ravaged Afghanistan in the first three months of 2019, a United Nations report said on Wednesday.
The quarterly report by the UN Assistance Mission (UNMA) in Afghanistan, however, noted that overall civilian casualties declined 23 per cent during the period compared with last year, attributing it to ongoing peace talks and a harsh winter.
According to the report, anti-government elements, including Taliban and the Islamic State militant group, were blamed for 54 per cent of the total civilian casualties up to March. These included 227 deaths and 736 injured, representing a 36 per cent decrease compared with the same period in 2018, Efe news reported.
Pro-government forces, including foreign troops, were responsible for 305 deaths and 303 injured during the period, representing a 39 per cent increase over the same period last year.
“The UNAMA notes with concern that pro-government forces were responsible for more civilian deaths than anti-government elements during the first quarter of 2019,” the report said.
Overall, 581 civilians were killed and 1,192 injured between January 1 and March 31. It included other casualties, not attributed to either side in the conflict. Last year, during the same period, 799 civilian deaths and 1,506 injured were documented.
The UNAMA said harsh winter conditions, preventive measures by the parties to the conflict and the ongoing peace talks might have contributed to the decrease in civilian casualties.
According to the UNAMA, four suicide attacks by Taliban during the first quarter of 2019 caused 178 civilian casualties against 19 such attacks (751 civilian deaths) in January-March of 2018.
Civilian casualties due to US and Afghan government airstrikes increased to their highest in the first three months of this year, according to the report. Women and children comprised half of civilian casualties from all aerial operations this year.