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UN: 100,000 Civilian Casualties in Afghan Since 2009


Afghan security forces inspect the site of an attack in a U.S. military air base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
UN: 100,000 Civilian Casualties in Afghan Since 2009
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The United Nations says the war in Afghanistan has resulted in more than 100,000 civilian casualties in the past ten years.

The international body is asking all sides to take steps to end the 18-year conflict.

The announcement comes as Taliban insurgents struck Thursday in the northern province of Balkh and reportedly killed at least 10 Afghan soldiers.

Tadamichi Yamamoto is the head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). He said in a statement that the war continues to be deadly for civilians.

"I recognize with extreme sadness that civilian casualties recently surpassed 100,000 in the past 10 years alone, from the time the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began (recording) civilian casualties in 2009 to the present,” said Yamamoto.

He asked all parties in the conflict to find ways to reduce levels of violence to prevent civilian casualties. He also said it will help create an environment that will assist efforts to find a political settlement to the war.

Yamamoto said that talks involving Afghans, which include women and young people, are “essential” for the peace process.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said Thursday’s insurgent attack in Balkh targeted a military base. It confirmed the deaths of six soldiers and said three others were wounded.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack in Balkh began with a suicide car bombing. Then, a group of insurgents attacked and captured a military base. He said the fighting left 12 Afghan soldiers dead and eight others wounded although insurgents often make inflated claims.

On Monday, Taliban insurgents also attacked an army base in another part of Balkh, killing at least 15 Afghan soldiers and wounding several others.

The number of battlefield attacks in northern Afghan provinces has grown recently. Usually, violence lessens at this time of year because of difficult weather conditions.

Also on Monday, a roadside bomb set by the Taliban exploded near a U.S. and Afghan military convoy in northern Kunduz province. An American soldier and an Afghan soldier were killed.

Insurgent attacks have killed about 50,000 Afghan soldiers since late 2014, Afghan officials said.

Peace talks

The United States is trying to negotiate an agreement with the Taliban to end the war. U.S. officials are pressing Taliban negotiators to reduce violence and enter into talks with other groups in Afghanistan.

The Taliban is demanding that the U.S. sign an agreement on the withdrawal of all U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan. The group says only then will it agree to a nationwide cease-fire and to the further talks.

I’m Jill Robbins.

VOA’s Ayaz Gul reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

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Words in This Story

casualty– n. an individual killed or wounded in a conflict

insurgent– n. a rebel or revolutionary fighter

surpass– v. to overtake, go beyond

convoy– n. a group of vehicles that are traveling together usually for protection

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