International

UN mission investigates civilian casualties in Afghan provinces


KABUL, March 15 — The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was investigating civilian casualties during military operations in three eastern provinces earlier this month that left two dozen civilians killed and injured, the mission said on Friday.
The preliminary findings from UNAMA indicated that 24 civilians were killed and injured in three separate operations against Taliban militants by Afghan security forces backed by NATO-led coalition troops on March 8 and 9 in Maidan Wardak, Nangarhar and Paktika provinces, according a UNAMA statement on its website.
“UNAMA will continue its independent fact-finding and share the findings with the concerned parties. Initial findings indicate that the majority of the victims were women and children,” the statement said, adding “UNAMA notes with particular concern the high number of deaths in these three incidents.”
In one incident 13 women and children were killed and injured following an airstrike in Hisarak district of Nangarhar, according to the statement.
On Wednesday, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani instructed top Afghan military officials to take initiative in the battle field and prevent civilian casualties during military operations.
“UNAMA takes note of the recent decision by the Afghan government to address reports of civilian casualties apparently caused by pro-government forces in three separate incidents on March 8 and 9 in Maidan Wardak, Nangarhar and Paktika provinces, including the instruction of the president for a review of mechanisms and procedures used in military operations with a view to preventing civilian casualties.”
The Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed conflicts as more than 3,800 civilians were killed and over 7,180 others injured in conflict-related incidents in 2018 in the war-torn country, according to figures released by UNAMA last month.
The mission has attributed 63 percent of the civilian casualties to the Taliban and other militant groups, 24 percent to security forces over the period while 10 percent were attributed to both sides during clashes and the rest 3 percent were caused by other reasons. – XINHUA