Afghan Civilian Deaths Climb to Highest Level in Decade, UN Says

(Bloomberg) -- Afghanistan civilian casualties rose 5 percent in 2018 to the highest level in a decade, reflecting an increase of suicide attacks by Taliban and Islamic State militants, according to a United Nations report on the conflict that has dragged on for 18 years.

The report showed 3,804 deaths and 7,189 injured, with 63 percent of the casualties blamed on anti-government groups, 14 percent attributed to Afghan forces and 6 percent to foreign forces, the UN Assistance Mission of Afghanistan said in a report Sunday in Kabul, the capital.

The report “is deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement. “More than 32,000 civilians killed and around 60,000 injured in a decade. It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy.”

The main causes of the casualties were a jump in suicide attacks by the two insurgent groups and the increasing aerial and search operations by Afghan forces.

The release of the report comes as the U.S. pushes to end the conflict by negotiating with the Taliban, which control or contest half of the country. The two sides are expected to resume peace talks Monday in Doha, where the group has a political office. The U.S. held four rounds of talks since last year and reached an agreement in principle that includes the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from the country and a ceasefire.

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