Afghan security personnel inspect the site of an attack in front of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, on March 2, 2016. ©AFP
Latest figures released by the United Nations
show that acts of terrorism and violence left 600 people dead in Afghanistan during the first quarter of the current year as the armed forces continue to battle Taliban militants.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), a total of 600 Afghan civilians lost their lives between January 1 and March 31, 2016, while 1,343 others were injured.
The number of deaths was down 13 percent compared to the same time span last year, but the number of injuries was 11 percent higher.
mission added almost a third of the casualties were children, as 161 were killed and 449 others injured over the first three months of 2016. The figure marked a 29-percent rise in comparison to the number recorded from January to March last year.
“If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas – particularly mortars and IED tactics, these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed will continue,” UNAMA human rights director Danielle Bell said in a statement on Sunday.
The UNAMA further noted that 52 Afghan women also lost their lives and 143 sustained injuries in the first quarter of this year, registering a five-percent jump in the number of women casualties.
This photograph taken on November 3, 2015 shows Afghan Taliban militants as they listen to an unseen Mullah Mohammad Rasool Akhund, the newly appointed leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, at Bakwah district in the western province of Farah. ©AFP
The figures came days after the Taliban militant group announced the start of its annual spring offensive against Afghan security forces and US-led foreign forces across the conflict-ridden South Asian country.
The Taliban said in a statement that the campaign had begun at 5 a.m. local time (0030 GMT) on April 12.
The militants also dubbed the offensive “Operation Omari” in honor of Taliban founder and long-time leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who purportedly died at a hospital in Karachi, the main seaport and financial center of Pakistan, in April 2013.
The Taliban promised “large scale attacks on enemy positions … tactical attacks against enemy strongholds and assassination of enemy commanders in urban centers.”