'Horrifying' figures show record number of Afghan civilians killed

A record number of civilians have been killed in the first six months of this year in Afghanistan, the UN said.

It blamed Taliban insurgents for most of those deaths during the country's protracted war.

In a report released on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called the numbers "horrifying", adding that they "can never fully convey the sheer human suffering of the people of Afghanistan".

Of the 1,662 civilians killed in the first six months of this year, the report said 40% died as a result of suicide bombings, improvised explosive devises and pressure-plate devices.

More women and children were also among the dead this year.

The UN said that represents a 2% rise from the same period in the previous year.

Afghans carry the bodies of men at after a suicide car bombing in Helmand province southern of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, June 22, 2017.Photo:AP

The UN High Commissioner added: "Each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering and the brutal violation of people's human rights."

The report confirmed that a massive truck bomb in the centre of Kabul on May 31, which killed at least 90 people, was the deadliest attack since the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban in 2001.

Insurgent attacks killed 1,141 civilians, a 12% increase over the same period last year, according to the report, which said such attacks wounded another 2,348 people.

The report commended Afghanistan's security forces, saying fewer civilians were caught in the crossfire compared to last year.

It said 434 civilians were killed during military operations against insurgents.

General Dowlat Waziri, a defence ministry spokesman, blamed the high toll on the insurgents' use of human shields.

"The army is being very careful during operations to prevent civilian deaths," he said.

AP

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