Afghan civilian casualties at record high in first half of 2016: UN

Broken glass and debris in a resturant in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 24, 2016, a day after a suicide attack.
Broken glass and debris in a resturant in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 24, 2016, a day after a suicide attack.PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL (AFP) - Civilian casualties in Afghanistan touched a record high in the first half of 2016, the United Nations said on Monday (July 25), with children in particular paying a heavy price as insurgent groups step up fighting.

Between January and June, 1,601 civilians were killed and 3,565 were wounded - a four per cent increase in casualties compared to the same period last year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.

The casualties have reached their highest level since the UN began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009.

The casualties include 1,509 children - a figure the UN described as "alarming and shameful".

The statistics are a grim indicator of growing insecurity in Afghanistan as the Taleban step up their nationwide insurgency and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group seeks to expand their foothold in the east of the country.

"Every single casualty documented in this report - people killed while praying, working, studying, fetching water, recovering in hospitals - every civilian casualty represents a failure of commitment and should be a call to action for parties to the conflict to take meaningful steps to reduce civilians' suffering," UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto said.

"Platitudes not backed by meaningful action ring hollow over time. History and the collective memory of the Afghan people will judge leaders of all parties to this conflict by their actual conduct."

The report comes after the deadliest attack for 15 years in Kabul killed 80 people and left hundreds maimed, an assault claimed by ISIS.