KABUL (Pajhwok): The conflict in Afghanistan claimed the lives 2,615 civilians and left injured another 4,072 including women, children, elders and youth last year, the Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) said on Monday. Comprised of civil society organizations and legal experts, CPAG, which monitors civilian casualties and seeks justice for the victims of war, said in its report that 40 suicide attacks took place in 2018, killing 744 and injuring 1,668 others.
Provinces with higher casualties
The CPAG report said most of the casualties last year happened in Kabul province and there were no casualties in Daikundi province. After Kabul, people in Nangarhar, Helmand, Ghazni and Paktia provinces suffered most of the casualties.
According to the CPAG, last year 29 terrorist attacks were registered in Kabul, killing 510 people and injuring 1107 more.
In Nangarhar, 122 incidents of violence occurred, killing 515 people and injuring another 834.
Twenty-one deadly incidents registered in Ghazni last year, in which a total of 461 persons suffered casualties – 181 martyred and 280 injured.
In Helmand, 42 incidents of violence happened last year in which 357 persons suffered casualties —- 251 martyred and 206 injured.
Twenty-one incidents of violence registered in Paktia last year, in which 125 persons martyred and 152 injured.
In 2018, 40 suicide attacks took place in which civilians suffered most of casualties with 744 killed and 1,668 others injured. Most of the suicide attacks – 10 —- last year happened in July in which 68 persons were killed and 129 others injured.
One suicide attack in February in Helmand province killed eight persons — the least number of casualties in a suicide attack.
The deadliest suicide attack for civilians happened last year in January in Sadarat Square in Kabul, in which 103 people lost their lives and 200 others injured. The Taliban had claimed responsibility for that attack.
Last year, most of the suicide attacks happened in Kabul and the deadliest one was in Zambaq Square in which over 300 people suffered casualties.
After Kabul, most suicide attacks accounted —- 11 — happened in Nangarhar province in which 179 people, including women and children had been killed and 415 others injured.
In Nangarhar, the deadliest attack happened in Momandara district on protesters in which 68 civilians were killed and 165 others injured.
Daesh carried out most of the suicide attacks CPAG last year. On April 30, a suicide attack in Shashdarak district of Kabul killed nine journalists. Sabawon Kakar, the reporter of Azadi Radio, was among the victim in the attack.
Sabawon’s brother said: “Suicide attacks are not a brave attempt. It claimed the life of my young brother. I wish the 2018 year never happened to our family.”
Jafar, resident of Dasht-i-Barchi locality, talks about the suicide attack on a learning centre in the limits of 18th Police District (PD).
Jafar said: “I have a shop close to the Mawoud Learning Centre, it was nearly evening when the explosion occurred, sending a thick black smoke in the air. I and some others rushed to the blast site. Bodies and blood was everywhere, people were shouting for help. I just helped three blood bathed injured and took them out the site.”
Laws and violation
CPAG also accused the insurgents and Afghan forces of violating the clear rules and regulations of war and wanted the government to use all means to reduce the level of civilian casualties.
CPAG registered 256 overnight operations in 2018, in which 265 civilians were killed and 50 others wounded. More than half of the night raids were conducted in Nangarhar that caused heavy casualties to civilians.
Most of such operations last year were launched in September, when 75 civilians were killed and six others wounded. The deadliest overnight operation was conducted on September 16 in Nangarhar province, in which 15 civilians including women and children were killed.
Only one night operation was conducted in January last year but that killed 35 civilians. One operation was conducted in February that killed seven civilians. Ten civilians were killed and six others wounded in the only overnight operation taking place in March. Two civilians were killed in a night raid in Nangarhar province in April last year.
The number of night operations increased in May, when 13 civilians were killed and eight others wounded in Nangarhar and five people killed and seven others wounded in Paktia that month. Nine people were killed and five others wounded in three night operations, all conducted in Nangarhar province in June. Night operations increased in July —- four operations were conducted in Nangarhar, one in Khost and one in Logar province and a total of 23 civilians were killed and two others wounded in these raids.
Fortunately, no such operations were conducted in August —- the most peaceful month for civilians in terms of night raids.
In September, nine night time operations were conducted across the country, in which 75 civilians were killed and six others wounded.
In October, eight night operations killed 50 civilians and wounded four others. Five operations were launched in Nangarhar alone.
Seven night operations in November killed 36 civilians and wounded 12 others.
September was the deadliest month for civilians in 2018, when nine operations, most of them in Nangarhar, were conducted by Afghan forces. Most of casualties also occurred in Nangarhar province in night raids during this period. MaidanWardak province also suffered civilian casualties during overnight operations in late 2018.
Delawar Khan, a farmer since 26 years, lost one of his sons in a night raid in Sadmardi village of Narkh district of MaidanWardak province. He said: “It was 12am at night when my house’s gate was blown up with bombs, two of my sons who had recently returned from Iran, were handcuffed and taken away by the forces. We later heard fire and as we came out of home and we saw the 01 Unit soldiers killed one of my sons and detained the second who is still with intelligence forces.”
Mursalin, also a resident of the same village, confirmed the incident and said no one the Taliban, the government and US forces showed mercy to civilians during the last one year.
Afghan and foreign forces’ airstrikes hit 19 civilian targets in 2018 and as a result, 136 civilians were killed and 87 others wounded.
The deadliest airstrike took place on July 13 in Zurmat district of Paktia province that killed 15 civilians.
Another deadly airstrike carried out by US forces in Chahardara district of Kunduz province on July 19, when 14 civilians were killed and a child injured.
In January, three airstrikes happened in which 21 civilians were killed and 28 others wounded. Four civilians were killed in the only airstrike that took place in February. There were no airstrikes that caused casualties to civilians in March and April.
However, eight people were killed and five others wounded in the following month of May while six civilians were killed in airstrikes in June. In July, 34 civilians were killed and four others wounded during three airstrikes.
No airstrikes happened in August that killed or wounded civilians but 24 noncombatants were killed and six others injured during two airstrikes in September.
Most of the airstrikes and civilian casualties in such incidents last year happened in October. Civilians were targeted six times in airstrikes in October when 28 noncombatants were killed and 29 others injured.
Nine people were killed and 14 others injured during two airstrikes in November.
Victims of these incidents say the government has ignored their ordeal. They say deals were made on their dead relatives whenever they approached the government for help.
MasihRahman, a resident of Jaghato district of MaidanWardak province, lost 12 members of his family in an airstrikes by the Afghan Special Forces and US forces on September 23.
“I was in Iran for work and no male family member was at home when security forces came to our village at night and they also searched our home. After that my cousins came to our home in the morning to give comfort to my children, it was 10am when security forces bombarded our home, they did not let anyone enter our home until the next morning, there were all 12 women, my children and my cousins in the home, all of them were killed, I arrived three days later and saw my home was turned into debris,” he said. Twelve members of a family were killed and a child wounded during a joint Afghan and US forces airstrike in Chahardara district of Kunduz on July 19.
Haji Imamuddin, the head of the family, said, “It was around 10am, when our family came under bombardment, killing eight women and three children and an elder man, there were no Taliban militants in the area at the time of the airstrike,”
Last year, a large number of civilians suffered casualties in landmine blasts blamed on militants. Some explosions were claimed by Taliban while others went unclaimed. But most of the incidents happened in Taliban-controlled areas.
At least 183 landmine explosions were recorded in 2018, causing 1,081 civilian casualties — 353 deaths and 728 cases of injuries.
Most of the explosions happened in October when 32 incidents were recorded. At least 55 civilians were martyred and 119 others injured in the 32 blasts. The lowest number of landmine explosions took place in November when three civilians were killed and 14 others wounded.
CPAG asked the Taliban to:
Stop killing civilians because they are not fighting against you;
Don’t target public institutions because such places are not used in conflict and honour humanitarian principles and Islamic teachings related to war;
Don’t use houses of civilians as human shield because they are unable to stop you;
Don’t target public places because civilians suffered most harm;
Avoid civilian casualties, a call for militants, international forces and Afghan forces;
The government was asked to:
Save civilian lives and honor the law during fighting;
Implement the policy of reduction in casualties caused by security forces;
Appoint a commission through the National Security Council to oversee the policy of cutting civilian casualties;
Force Ministry of Defence commanders on frontlines to implement plans for checking civilian casualties;
Hold MoI and MoD accountable for providing correct casualty figures;
Bring individuals behind civilian casualties to justice and punish them;
Assist victims’ families financially, medically and in other ways necessary and increase compensation to martyrs’ families;
Avoid concealing reports about civilian casualties caused by foreign forces;
Compensate civilians for damage and honour transparency;
Ensure that MoI and MoPH train several medical teams to immediately administer medical aid during conflict.
Foreign forces were asked to:
Honour war rules and regulations;
Conduct night raids based on ‘correct information;
Punish those who violate international human rights norms;
Put on trial those accused of in civilian casualties;
Join the government in assisting victims’ families;
Help the government in providing affected families with long- and short-term assistance.
CPAG called for enacting a civilian protection advocacy law. Those involved in civilian casualties — militants, international forces or government forces — should be punished. The government and international forces were urged to provide long-term aid to victims’ families. The government was asked to secure guarantees from foreign forces that they would take care of civilians during raids.
CPAG also urged the UN not to be content with releasing civilian casualty reports only, but also explain its position on the issue.