Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit record high

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit record high
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More than 4,300 civilians were killed or injured in Afghanistan between July and September, an all-time high for a quarter since such casualties were first recorded in 2009, according to a new report released Thursday.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that the civilian casualties “rose significantly during the quarter due to a high number of terrorist and insurgent attacks” prior to presidential elections in the country, a release accompanying the report stated. 

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Citing the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), SIGAR found that there were 4,313 casualties in the three-month period, consisting of 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injuries. That represents a 42 percent increase compared to numbers from the same period last year.  

And in July, “UNAMA documented the highest number of civilian casualties that the Mission has ever recorded in a single month.”

Afghanistan civilians were hit with a particularly deadly summer when the Taliban deployed a truck bomb in July to Kabul and killed 40 people. There was also a suicide bombing in August in the capitol that killed 92 people — an attack claimed by ISIS.

Most of the deaths and injuries in the quarter attributed to the Taliban more than tripled compared to the same period in 2018. 

Overall, from January to September, the Taliban were responsible for 3,823 civilian casualties, 46 percent of the total casualties in that time period, according to the report.

Civilian casualties caused by improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, in particular, spiked in 2019. 

“During the months of July, August, and September, UNAMA documented an alarming 72% increase in civilian casualties caused by IEDs compared to the same period in 2018,” the report stated.

The SIGAR report comes a month after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE announced the end of peace talks with the Taliban following an attack in Kabul that killed 11 civilians and an American service member.

The U.S. has since begun to wind down its force presence in the country despite the lack of a working peace deal with Taliban forces.

Gen. Scott Miller, the top American commander in the country, said last week that U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan were reduced by 2,000 to about 12,000 over the past year.