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UN: Child casualties highest ever in Afghanistan

A new report from the United Nations has revealed a surge in killed and injured Afghan children. Many of them were killed by makeshift landmines that the Taliban has placed across the country.

On Monday, the UN reported that civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose to a record level in 2016, including a "disproportionate" increase in child victims.

Of the 11,418 noncombatants injured or killed, 3,512 were children, the UN reported.

According to the report from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), this included 923 deaths and 2,589 injuries.

"Children have been killed, blinded, crippled - or inadvertently caused the death of their friends - while playing with unexploded ordnance that is negligently left behind by parties to the conflict," said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Deadly landmines

The leading cause of civilian casualties was ground conflict between militants and Afghan forces, followed by homemade mines. The Taliban has taken to planting improvised landmines all over the country in order to stop the advance of government soldiers. However, most of the victims of the devices have been children.

US and Afghan airstrikes were also a major cause of child death and injuries, according to the report.

Overall, civilian injuries rose by 6 percent over the previous year. The number of women hit by the violence was down, however, by 2 percent. Three hundred and forty-one women were killed and 877 injured, UNAMA wrote, mostly at the hands of militant forces.

"Anti-government elements continued to subject women to punishments imposed through parallel justice structures," the report read. Altogether, these "anti-government elements," mostly the Taliban, were responsible for 61 percent of casualties.

The report also concluded that there was the chance of "underreporting" because of the lack of access to certain parts of the country where the security situation is the most dire.

es/tj (AFP, dpa)

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