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Afghan Civilian Casualties Down; Coalition Forces Killed More Than Taliban

FILE: Cars are loaded with the bodies of civilians allegedly killed in a military operation by international forces in Zurmat district of Paktia province in December 2018.

KABUL -- A report by the United Nations says U.S. and Afghan government forces killed more civilians than the number killed by Taliban fighters and other militants for the first time during a three-month period since the UN began keeping records on civilian casualties in 2009.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted that civilian casualties from the war in Afghanistan fell by almost 25 percent during the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier – with a total of 581 civilians killed and 1,192 wounded.

When the number of civilians killed and wounded were combined, the UNAMA report says attacks by Taliban and other militants still caused more casualties than pro-government forces.

"A shocking number of civilians continue to be killed and maimed each day," UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto said in a statement calling on all sides to do more to protect civilians.

Yamamoto said militants should stop deliberately targeting civilians and using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) such as roadside bombs, while pro-government forces should reduce the civilian death toll from air strikes and search operations.

The UNAMA report said a total of 145 civilians were killed during the first three months of 2019 by U.S. and Afghan government air strikes.

It said 140 of those deaths were caused by U.S. air strikes.

The report documented four suicide attacks by militants during the first three months of the year that killed or wounded 178 civilians.

During the same period in 2018, the report says, a total of 19 militant attacks resulted in 751 civilian casualties.

On April 23, Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission put out its own report on civilian casualties from the war in Afghanistan.

It said a total of 11,212 civilians were killed or wounded between the end of March 2018 and the end of March this year.

The Afghan commission’s report also said a total of 75,316 Afghan civilians have been killed in the conflict since the war began just over 17 years ago.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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