Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Taliban, stung by escalated USA military effort, calls for dialogue

Taliban, stung by escalated USA military effort, calls for dialogue

More than 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in violence previous year, the United Nations said on Thursday, with militant bombings the main cause while air strikes by US and government forces inflicted a rising toll.

Child casualties - 861 killed and 2,318 injured - decreased by 10 percent compared to 2016.

"The success of the Afghan operations around the country, supported by Resolute Support and USA forces, have caused the enemy high casualties everywhere", he said.

The United Nations has documented a nine percent reduction in civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2017 but warned of increased harm to civilians this year as warring sides are expected to intensify hostilities.

FILE - Men mourn over relatives' bodies in a hospital near the site of an explosion in Herat, Afghanistan, June 6, 2017.

"This amounted to three times as many attacks as in 2016, double the number the deaths and 30 percent more total civilian casualties", the report states. The majority of civilian casualties - 65 percent - were from anti-government groups, with 42 percent attributed to the Taliban.

Meanwhile, spokesman for Afghan Defense Ministry, Dawlat Waziri, said that the security forces would do their best to protect civilians during military operations against militants in Afghanistan.

The rest, she added, were caused mainly by unattributed cross-fire and unattributed explosive remnants of war.

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, supported by a US-led coalition, are now conducting cooperative offensive operations against terrorism in the country.

However, Taliban said privatizing the war would be a grave mistake after reports surfaced that a private firm named Black Water offered its services to replace the US troops with 5,500 private contractors who would train the Afghan soldiers to join them in the fight against Taliban. Unattributed cross-fire during ground engagements between anti-government elements and pro-government forces caused 11 per cent of civilian casualties.

Still, it noted, the casualties from suicide and complex attacks rose by 17 percent, including attacks in Kabul - the highest single-year number of civilian casualties since 2009. The insurgents in turn have vowed to retaliate with more force in the coming summer fighting season. He blamed the Taliban but did not provide more details.

More than a quarter of those were killed in deliberate militant attacks.

The Taliban letter, however, insists that the U.S. strikes have no impact and that civilians were killed in the attacks.

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