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UN Says Afghan Forces Causing More Civilian Casualties

An Afghan family waits for help from the government and aid organizations in Takhar after fleeing their homes in neighboring Kunduz province on October 12.

The United Nations says government forces are responsible for a growing share of civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict.

In a report published on October 19, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says at least 2,562 civilians died and another 5,835 were wounded in the fighting in the first nine months of this year.

A similar number of civilian casualties occurred in the same period in 2015, indicating that rates may be leveling off at near-record levels after steadily increasing over the previous years.

Antigovernment elements remained the highest cause of civilian casualties, the report says, but casualties caused by pro-government forces rose 42 percent compared to last year.

That includes a spike of 72 percent in casualties from air strikes by the Afghan Air Force and its allies.

"Increased fighting in densely populated areas makes it imperative for parties to take immediate steps to ensure all feasible precautions are being taken to spare civilians from harm," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary general's special representative for Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa