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Civilian injuries in Afghanistan conflict at worst level since 2009

Published 14/02/2016

US forces regularly conduct air strikes to back up Afghan forces (AP)
US forces regularly conduct air strikes to back up Afghan forces (AP)

Civilian injuries in Afghanistan's long war with the Taliban rose last year, with women and children again bearing the brunt of the violence, the United Nations (UN) has said.

A total of 3,545 civilians were killed in 2015 as a result of the war, a UN report said, with another 7,457 wounded.

The figures mark a four per cent drop in civilian deaths but a nine per cent rise in injuries compared to 2014.

The UN's Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said 2015 had the "highest number of total civilian casualties recorded by UNAMA since 2009".

It also said 10% of civilian casualties were women, up 37% from the year before. It says 25% were children, up 14%. Most were caught in crossfire, it added.

The annual Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict report is based on on-site investigations where possible.

It attributed 62% of all civilian casualties to anti-government elements, which includes the Taliban, who have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government for 15 years.

Another 17% were blamed on pro-government forces and two per cent on international military forces.

The US-Nato combat mission ended in 2014, with troops reduced to about 13,000.

While they officially have a "train, advice, assist" mandate, the US forces regularly conduct air strikes to back up Afghan forces and are empowered for "force protection," which can see them engage in self-defensive combat.

The UNAMA report highlighted large-scale attacks in the capital Kabul, particularly two suicide attacks on August 7 that it said caused 355 civilian casualties, including 43 dead and 312 wounded.

"This was the highest number of civilians killed and injured in one day since UNAMA began systematically recording civilian casualties in 2009," it added.

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