As more women have joined the work force in Afghanistan, they have become more vulnerable to insurgents targeting government workers during rush hours in crowded parts of the capital, the U.N. report said. Another reason for the increase in women killed or injured in attacks has been the growing intensity of urban assaults.
A huge truck bomb detonated at a crowded traffic circle in Kabul in May was one of the deadliest strikes in the long Afghan war, and a reminder of how the battlefield has extended to the capital. That attack killed around 80 people, and though many of the people killed and injured were commuters on the streets, many other casualties were in office buildings close to the blast site. (Three women were killed in the bombing and another 52 injured.)
Children were again killed in large numbers.
They made up more than a quarter of the total casualties, and child deaths were up 9 percent compared with the same period last year.
“These civilian attacks need to stop,” said David Skinner, the country director for the nongovernmental organization Save the Children. “Not only do they injure and kill innocent people in the most horrific way, but they cause untold distress and trauma, especially for children, often leading to serious psychosocial issues and impacting their longer-term development.”
The report blamed antigovernment forces for 67 percent of the civilian casualties, holding the Taliban responsible for 43 percent, the Islamic State for 5 percent and unidentified groups for 19 percent. But Afghans also suffer at the hands of government and allied forces, sometimes as they come across their unexploded ordnance.
The use of homemade bombs has increased.
The report commended government forces for reducing civilian casualties from ground engagements, including indiscriminate firing of mortars and other heavy weapons in civilian areas. In the meantime, it said, casualties caused by the insurgents’ use of homemade bombs had only increased. Roughly 40 percent of all civilian casualties — 596 deaths and 1,483 injuries — resulted from the insurgents’ use of such explosives, including suicide bombs, the report said.