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Casualties Figures Up In Afghanistan's Helmand Province

File photo of a bomb attack in Helmand.
File photo of a bomb attack in Helmand.

An Afghan commission says more than 700 civilians have been killed or injured in the last nine months in the southern province of Helmand.

Since the end of March last year, at least 232 people have died and at least 502 have been injured, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said on January 14.

However, the governor of Helmand has disputed the casualty figures from the commission.

Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the Helmand governor, was quoted by Afghan media as saying the numbers were "exaggerated."

But experts say that many civilian deaths and injuries aren't accounted for. Due to the bad security situation, NGO workers are rarely on site.

The Taliban has stepped up attacks to gain territory in Helmand. At least five of the province's 14 districts are being fought over, while three more are occupied by the militant group.

Based on reporting by dpa