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10 February, 2017

Record number of civilians killed and injured in 2016 Afghan airstrikes

Air attacks by Afghan and international forces caused a total of 590 civilian casualties in 2016 (250 deaths and 340 people injured), almost double that of 2015.

by Jack Serle

Part 4 - Strikes in civilian-populated areas

With much of Afghanistan’s fighting last year taking place in civilian-populated areas, air attacks also carry a considerable risk of civilian harm.

Unama urged “an immediate halt to the use of airstrikes in civilian-populated areas and calls for greater restraint in the use of airstrikes where civilians are likely to be present.

More than half the civilian casualties from US and Afghan air attacks came in three provinces: Kunduz in the north and Helmand in the south, where the Taliban has been pressing hard, and in south-eastern Nangarhar province where the Taliban and Islamic State’s Afghan franchise are fighting each other and the Afghan security forces.

The US has focused considerable firepower on Nangarhar with air strikes and operations by special forces. This has translated into a near-400% increase in civilian casualties from operations by US and other international forces. A total of 37 people were killed and 52 injured in 13 aerial operations in the province last year, compared to 11 people deaths and seven injured in ten operations in 2015.

The annual Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict report from Unama looks in-depth at the devastation wreaked by all sides in the Afghan conflict. Since 2009, almost 25,000 civilians have been killed or injured in what Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, today called a “senseless, never-ending conflict.

It is about time the various parties to the conflict ceased the relentless commission of war crimes,” he said.

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