The number of Afghan civilians killed in the country’s long-running conflict hit a record high in the first six months of 2018, UN figures showed Sunday, with militant attacks and suicide bombs the leading causes of death.
The toll of 1,692 fatalities was one percent more than a year earlier and the highest for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2009.
Another 3,430 people were wounded in the war, down five percent from the same period last year, the report said.
Overall civilian casualties — 5,122 – fell three percent year on year.
The record high death toll came despite an unprecedented ceasefire by Afghan security forces and the Taliban last month that was largely respected by both sides, UNAMA said.
The ceasefire for the first three days of Eid was marked by scenes of jubilation as security forces and Taliban fighters celebrated the Islamic holiday, raising hopes that peace was possible after nearly 17 years of conflict.
But the suspension of hostilities was marred by two suicide attacks in the eastern province of Nangarhar that killed dozens of people and were claimed by the ISIL Takfiri group, which was not part of the ceasefire.
The Taliban refused a government request to extend the truce, returning to the battlefield and ignoring calls to enter talks with Kabul to end the war.
“The brief ceasefire demonstrated that the fighting can be stopped and that Afghan civilians no longer need to bear the brunt of the war,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, said.
“We urge parties to seize all opportunities to find a peaceful settlement — this is the best way that they can protect all civilians.”