Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit record high: UN

AFGHANISTAN (REUTERS) - A UN report released on Sunday (Feb 14) said civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose to record levels for the seventh year in a row in 2015.

More than 11,000 non-combatant Afghan civilians died or were injured -  a four per cent increase since 2014.

Fighting between Western-backed government forces and insurgent groups meant more non-combatants were killed in the crossfire.

Residents in the north and south were particularly hard hit as Afghan security forces struggled to hold off resurgent Taleban offensives in Kunduz and Helmand provinces.

"Ground engagements killed and injured the most civilians followed by IEDs (improvised explosives devices), conflicts and suicide attacks. These tactics combined with targeted killings accounted for a 90 per cent of total civilian casualties." said Ms Danielle Bell, the director of the UN human rights programme in Afghanistan.

The UN has documented nearly 59,000 deaths and injuries since it began systematically recording civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2009.