ISLAMABAD – At least 3,400 civilians died last year amid the war in Afghanistan, a slight decrease from the previous year, according to an annual U.N. report released Thursday.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said there was a decrease of 2.3 percent from the year prior; there were 3,510 civilian deaths in 2016 and 3,428 in 2017.
Nevertheless, the UNAMA report highlights the higher number of casualties caused by suicide bombings and other attacks using improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
“I am particularly appalled by the continued indiscriminate and unlawful use of IEDs such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices in civilian-populated areas. This is shameful,” UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto, who doubles as the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement.
Last year saw the deadliest single incident since UNAMA began recording civilian casualties in 2009.
It occurred in Kabul on May 31 when a suicide attacker detonated a truck laden with approximately 2,000 kilos of military-grade explosives during morning rush hour, killing 92 civilians and injuring hundreds more.
Besides the 3,428 documented deaths of civilians last year, another 7,015 were injured, according to the report. The combined casualty figures represent a decrease of 9 percent compared with 2016.
Close to two-thirds of those casualties were caused by anti-government elements such as Taliban and Islamic State militants. Pro-government forces accounted for one-fifth and 2 percent were caused by international military forces.
The report documented 295 deaths and 336 injured among civilians from aerial operations conducted by pro-government forces, a 7 percent increase from 2016, and the highest number from airstrikes in a single year since 2009.
Of the total deaths, 861 were children and 359 were women.
“The chilling statistics in this report provide credible data about the war’s impact, but the figures alone cannot capture the appalling human suffering inflicted on ordinary people, especially women and children,” Yamamoto said.
The report does not estimate casualties among the Afghan National Army, international troops and the militants.