UN says nearly 3,500 Afghans killed or injured in first half of 2020

KABUL (REUTERS) – More than 1,280 Afghan civilians have been killed in the first six months of the year as fighting rages in Afghanistan, despite a pact between the United States and Taleban militants, the United Nations said on Monday (July 27).

The violence, mainly between Afghan government forces and the Taleban, killed 1,282 and injured 2,176 for a tally of 3,458 civilian casualties, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) said in a report.

“The reality remains that Afghanistan continues to be one of the deadliest conflicts in the world for civilians,” it said in the mid-year report.

Despite a drop of 13 per cent in casualties from the corresponding period last year, Unama said the Taleban continued to cause the majority of civilian casualties, mainly through use of explosive devices, abductions and summary executions.

The Taleban were responsible for 43 per cent of all civilian casualties and government forces caused 23 per cent, chiefly from air strikes and indirect fire during operations, it added.

The Unama attributed the 13 per cent drop to fewer operations by international forces, as well as fewer attacks by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

In February, the US and the Taleban signed an agreement in Doha, laying out plans for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the militants.

However, fighting has spiked in recent weeks, prompted by differences over an exchange of prisoners between the Taleban and Afghan government, as Kabul proved reluctant to free hundreds of jailed militants.

The Doha deal provided for the government to release 5,000 Taleban prisoners in exchange for hundreds of Afghan troops, the main plank in starting peace negotiations between the two sides in the effort to end the 18-year-old war.

While the Afghan government has released more than 4,000 Taleban prisoners, it has refused to release another 600, saying they were involved in murder, illicit drug trafficking and major attacks.

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