United Nations blames insurgents for record Afghan death toll

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

The number of civilian deaths has peaked in Afghanistan over the last six months, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has said in a new report, calling the death toll the worst since records began in 2009.

The report also attributed the rise of civilian deaths to the increased use of homemade bombs. That represents a 1 percent drop from past year.

A massive truck bomb in Kabul detonated by a suicide attacker killed at least 92 people and wounded almost 500 in May. This was considered the most mortal attack documented by Umana since 2001.

In May, a truck bomb in the heart of the capital, Kabul, detonated by a suicide attacker, killed at least 92 people and wounded almost 500 in what the United Nations called the "deadliest incident documented" since the global military intervention that toppled the Taliban in 2001.

Such attacks killed 259 people and injured 892, a 15 percent increase compared to the first six months of 2016. IEDs from anti-government forces, the majority of which are suicide bombs, account for 40 percent of all civilian casualties in the beginning of 2017.

Daesh was blamed for five percent, while unidentified anti-government forces accounted for another 19 percent of the total.

The number of women killed rose by 23 percent rise to 174 while 462 were injured.

Civilian casualties due to aerial operation by both Afghan and United States forces increased 43 percent compared to the same period past year, pointing to the increasing use of air power to support the Afghan security forces fighting a resilient insurgency. Meanwhile, 436 children were killed and 1,141 others injured, marking a 9 percent increase in child deaths.

Almost half of Afghanistan's 34 provinces have seen an increase in civilian deaths in the first six months of the year, mainly owing to the rise in attacks by anti-government forces.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, was referring to stories like Naseea's when he said the statistics in UNAMA's latest report, "horrifying though they are, can never fully convey the sheer human suffering of the people of Afghanistan".

Defense Secretary James Mattis has promised to have a new strategy for Afghanistan ready this month.

Currently, there are almost 8,400 USA troops in Afghanistan conducting a so-called train-and-advise mission and a counterterrorism mission.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon last Friday, Mattis refused to "give credence" to reports about specific numbers of troops being considered for deployment.

As more women have joined the workforce in Afghanistan, they have become more vulnerable to insurgents targeting government workers during rush hours in crowded parts of the capital, the United Nations report said.

"Welcome to strategy", Mattis said when asked about the delay. "I don't know where to find them".

Vanessa Coleman

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