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U.S. Watchdog Says Afghan Forces' Casualties 'Shockingly High'

FILE: Afghanistan soldiers in Kabul.
FILE: Afghanistan soldiers in Kabul.

A U.S. watchdog group says in a new report that Afghan security forces suffered "shockingly high" casualties in this winter fighting the Taliban and other insurgents.

In the quarterly report sent to the U.S. Congress on May 1, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says 807 members of the Afghan national forces were killed against the Taliban and other militants in the first six weeks of this year.

It said at least 1,328 Afghan security personnel were injured during the period.

The figures for the report were collected before the April 21 attack by the Taliban on a military compound in Balkh Province that officials say left more than 130 army personnel dead.

"Afghanistan remains in the grip of a deadly war," the report says. "Casualties suffered by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban and other insurgents continue to be shockingly high."

The report cited U.S. figures showing a gain in territory under Afghan government control, now at 59.7 percent of the country's 407 districts, up from 57.2 percent in mid-November of last year.

That represents an 800,000-person increase in the population under Afghan government control, it said.

The report cited figures from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan that said 11,418 civilian casualties were reported in 2016, up 3 percent from the previous year and the highest since such figures have been tallied since 2009.

Of the civilian casualties, 3,498 were deaths, it said.

SIGAR, created by the U.S. Congress, provides oversight into how the more than $100 billion appropriated for reconstruction since 2002 in Afghanistan has been allocated.

With reporting by AFP