2018 bloodiest year for civilians in Afghan war

2018 bloodiest year for civilians in Afghan war
2 min read
24 February, 2019
More civilians died in 2018 than in any other year in the 18-year war in Afghanistan.
Last year saw a record number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan [AFP]
More Afghan civilians died in 2018 than in any other year in the country's nearly two-decade war, a UN report released on Sunday said.

At least 3,804 people killed and another 7,189 wounded in 2018, according to the UN figures, after a deadly insurgency in Afghanistan saw civilian areas targeted.

Civilian deaths in 2018 rose by 11 percent, most killed in bombings that have caused havoc across the war-torn country.

"It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan. 

"The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting," he said.

Taliban and Islamic State group militants have used suicide bombers to deliberately target civilians, the report read, with Shia Muslims a particular target of the latter militant group.

The UN report noted 65 suicide attacks in Afghanistan last year, the vast majority targeting the capital Kabul.

Militants were responsible for the death of more than 2,200 civilians across the country, while 500 civilians were killed by "aerial operations for the first time on record". 

The US has intensified its aerial war against the Taliban, which has launched huge offensives across the country, while IS fighters have also been targeted.

The US-led coalition dropped twice as many munitions on insurgent positions last year compared to 2017.

Yamamoto said the civilian casualties were "wholly unacceptable" and called on all parties to take "immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed".

Afghanistan's war began in 2001 following a US-led invasion to overthrow the Taliban regime, with the country previously seeing decades of internal fighting and an anti-Soviet insurgency.

The US has been pushing for a peace agreement with the Taliban, while ramping up attacks on the militant group.

A breakthrough between the Taliban and the US was achieved earlier this year with a "draft framework" to end the conflict.

That included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terror groups - such as al-Qaeda and a US withdrawal, depending on conditions on the ground. 

However, the Taliban have refused to speak with the Kabul government, which it considers to be a US-puppet regime.

President Donald Trump has been eager to pull US troops out of Afghanistan, following a similar vow for the American military force in Syria.