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AIHRC: Civilian Casualties from Afghan Airstrikes Increasing

27 Jan 2020 Tolo News

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on Monday lashed out at the government for an “increase in civilian casualties” in Afghan forces airstrikes, saying this is not acceptable.

The commission said the security agencies are not bound by rules for protecting civilians during their military operations.

In a recent incident, at least seven civilians – all women and children and members of one family – were killed in an airstrike by government forces in the northern province of Balkh on Saturday, according to residents and relatives of the family.

Figures by the AIHRC show that 485 civilians were killed, and 265 others were wounded, in government forces airstrikes in the past 12 months.

“Even one civilian should not be killed in conflicts between warring parties, but, regretfully, our concerns are growing every day because we see that the (civilian) deaths are increasing every year,” the AIHRC spokesman Naeem Nazari said.

A local rights group meanwhile called for more precision in government forces operations.

“If the civilian casualties are not reduced to zero, they should be at least decreased, and the government should act firmly in this respect,” said Aziz Ahmad Tasal, head of a rights group for the protection of civilians.

“The civilian casualties show the weakness of the government. It weakens the government and it affects people’s trust,” said Atiqullah Amarkhil, a military analyst.

But the Defense Ministry officials see the Taliban as the “main reason” behind civilian casualties in the country.

“Protecting civilians is a priority for the Afghan Defense and Security Forces,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense. “The Taliban and other groups are the main causes of civilian deaths.”

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