The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has expressed its concern over the increased number of civilian casualties from airstrikes this year in Afghanistan.
UNAMA received multiple, credible allegations that on 22 September, aerial ordnance impacted the home of a teacher in the Budrab area of Tagab district of northeastern Kapisa province, killing nine civilians, including four children and three women, with several others injured, according to the statement, adding that “All the victims from the attack were from the same family, including grandparents and children aged between two and twelve. Five of the six other family members who were injured when their home was destroyed were women and young children.”
The incident took place during operations conducted by government forces against Taliban in the area.
“It was not immediately clear whether the strike was carried out by international military forces or by the Afghan Air Force. UNAMA is in contact with both entities, as part of UNAMA’s ongoing independent verification process to establish facts around such incidents and to advocate with parties to improve mitigation measures in future operations to prevent civilian casualties,” the statement said.
In the meantime, UNAMA reminds all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm and holds that all parties to the conflict must strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law to take all feasible measures to protect civilians. UNAMA also calls upon parties responsible for operations resulting in civilian casualties to ensure independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigations into these incidents.
In the first six months of the year, UNAMA documented 353 civilian casualties (149 deaths and 204 injured) from aerial attacks, a 52 percent increase from the same period in 2017. It is of particular concern that women and children made up more than half of all aerial attack civilian casualties, according to the statement.
UNAMA attributed 52 percent of all civilian casualties from aerial attacks to the Afghan forces, 45 percent to international military forces, and the remaining three percent to unidentified pro-government forces.
Around seven percent of all civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict in the first half of the year were attributed to air operations.
Since the release of UNAMA’s 2018 mid-year Protection of Civilians Report, UNAMA has continued to record increasing numbers of civilian casualties caused by airstrikes.
On Monday, Kapisa officials said at least 10 civilians had been killed in a foreign forces operation in Tagab district on Sunday night.
Mahfoz Safi, the provincial council’s deputy chief, said the incident occurred on Sunday night in the Badrab village during a foreign forces operation against Taliban and as a result civilians were killed.
According to Safi, children and women were also among the victims and three others were wounded in the incident.
Safi said that all the victims were residents of the area.
However, on Monday night Resolute Support rejected the claims of civilian casualties and said Commander Grant Neeley, a US Forces – Afghanistan spokesman said in a statement to TOLOnews said: “During an Afghan army operation in Kapisa, the Afghan forces came under fire from a local mobilization militia. The Afghan army requested air support. US helicopters were present to provide the support and immediately came under fire from the local militia and returned fire in self-defense, resulting in the wounding of six militia. As the fog of war lifted and it became clear the militia had fired in error, the wounded militia members were airlifted and they are currently receiving treatment in a US hospital. We have no indication of non-combatant casualties.”
Meanwhile, the Kapisa provincial governor’s spokesman confirmed an operation was carried out in the Tagab district but did not confirm the killing of civilians.