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Over 10,000 Afghan Civilians Killed or Wounded in 2017: UN

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(Last Updated On: February 15, 2018)

More than 10,000 civilians lost their lives or suffered injuries in Afghanistan in 2017, the United Nations said Thursday, with militant bombings the main cause while airstrikes by U.S. and government forces inflicted a rising toll.

In its annual report released on Thursday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office, documented 3,438 deaths and 7,015 injuries – a nine percent decline from the record-high figure in 2016.

“The chilling statistics in this report provide credible data about the war’s impact, but the figures alone cannot capture the appalling human suffering inflicted on ordinary people, especially women and children,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said in a statement.

The second leading cause of civilian casualties in 2017 was ground engagements between anti-government elements and pro-government forces, although there was a decrease of 19 percent from the record levels seen in 2016.

The report attributed 42 percent of the casualties to the Taliban, 10 percent to Islamic State (IS) also known as Daesh and 13 percent to other anti-government elements.

Pro-government forces, including Afghan national security forces and international military forces caused a fifth of the civilian casualties. 

The deadliest attack since the U.N. mission began recording civilian casualties in 2009 was in Kabul on May 31 when a suicide attacker detonated a truck bomb, killing 92 civilians and injuring 491.

The air campaign by international and government forces accounted for 6 percent of civilian casualties in 2017, with 295 people killed and 336 wounded, a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

“Afghan civilians have been killed going about their daily lives – traveling on a bus, praying in a mosque, simply walking past a building that was targeted. The people of Afghanistan, year after year, continue to live in insecurity and fear, while those responsible for ending lives and blighting lives escape punishment,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in the statement.

“Such attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law and are likely, in most cases, to constitute war crimes. The perpetrators must be identified and held accountable,” he added.

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Elections planned for summer, including Ghazni poll

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2021)

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Tuesday that various elections will be held across the country in summer, including the long overdue Ghazni parliamentary elections as well as  provincial council, district council and municipal elections. 

Saleh said that in a meeting chaired by President Ashraf Ghani and members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), he was tasked with reporting on the constituency for the provincial council elections for another month.

According to Saleh, constituencies is one of the most complex and sensitive issues in elections as it could lead to various groups in society feeling sidelined or undermined.

“Our wish is that all these elections are held. But if we can’t hold them all due to logistical problems, we will definitely hold one or two,” said Saleh.

The Ghazni elections meanwhile where delayed in 2018 due to serious security issues. 

Ghani meanwhile met with the IEC two days ago to discuss election plans. 

In a statement issued by the president’s office, ARG stated that IEC commissioners showed their preparedness for holding elections across the country.

Ghani welcomed the IEC’s plans and said government was committed to the principle of elections and would provide the necessary resources.

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Taliban ambush security checkpoint in Badakhshan

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2021)

Abdullah Naji Nazari, a member of the Badakhshan Provincial Council, said Tuesday the Taliban attacked a checkpoint in Pul-e-Soch in Badakhshan’s Jurm district at midnight on Monday. 

The attack lasted for two hours. 

According to Nazari, three soldiers were killed, three were wounded and three others were captured. 

Nazari added that five armed Taliban were killed and eight others were wounded in the attack.

Local officials have not yet responded to calls for more information. 

Taliban has also not commented. 

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Neighbors ‘colluding’ with Taliban over drone warfare: military experts

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2021)

A number of former military chiefs and members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) have said the Taliban are not able to get access to hi-tech drones without the help of neighboring countries. 

The use of drones is one of the Taliban’s latest tactics. The group has not only used the devices to gather surveillance footage of possible targets but have also used them to carry out bombardments against military installations. 

Sources in Kunduz said on Monday the Taliban also carried out an airstrike on a national army battalion in Imam Sahib district of the province on Sunday – using drones. This comes after they dropped explosives on the 217 Pamir Corps.

The use of this technology by the Taliban is not new, but in recent months such attacks by the group on military bases have increased. 

“The use of drones by the Taliban has concerned the people. The group has attacked the 217th Pamir Corps and an ANA battalion in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz,” said Mohammad Yusof Ayoubi, head of Kunduz Provincial Council.

Military experts say the use of such technology by the Taliban alone is not possible, and that countries in the region are involved in the attacks. 

They say there are now free markets in parts of Pakistan, where the Taliban obtain drones and advanced weapons.

“Advanced weapons are still sold freely in parts of Pakistan. The Afghan military can easily thwart Taliban airstrikes, even with Kalashnikovs,” said former military chief Dawlat Waziri.

Although the Ministry of Defense did not comment on the use of Taliban drones, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) has already confirmed the use of such technology by the group.

The House Defense Committee also says the Taliban are active near military bases due to the lack of intelligence.

“Weak intelligence has led to a large presence of the Taliban near military bases. This must be stopped,” said Mir Haidar Afzali, Chairman of the Defense Affairs Committee of the Wolesi Jirga.

Military experts say the attacks are dangerous, but say security and defense agencies could easily prevent them.

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