KABUL -- More and more Afghan civilians are being deliberately targeted by militant attacks and suicide blasts, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported Thursday (February 15).
The Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) have been ramping up assaults in urban areas, resulting in growing casualties among civilians from suicide bombings and complex terrorist attacks, the report said.
Civilian deaths across the country dipped by 9% in 2017, with 10,453 total civilian casualties including 3,438 deaths and 7,015 wounded.
However, casualties from suicide bombings and other attacks increased by 17%, according to UNAMA.
"2017 recorded the highest number of civilian casualties from suicide and complex attacks in a single year in Afghanistan," the report said, with 605 killed and 1,690 wounded from such incidents.
The capital remained a top target, with 16% of all casualties during the year -- a total of 1,831 people killed and wounded -- occurring in Kabul alone.
'Creating terror and suffering'
"Afghan civilians have been killed going about their daily lives -- travelling on a bus, praying in a mosque, simply walking past a building that was targeted," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein was quoted as saying in the report.
"When we see civilians being deliberately targeted, you wonder how long that this [has] to go on," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN's special representative in Afghanistan, said at a news conference in Kabul Thursday.
Militants claim to represent Afghan interests but are "killing people in the most appalling manner, creating terror and suffering", he said.
Things have not improved so far in 2018, Yamamoto said, warning that the UN is concerned it will see "greater harm this year".
More than 28,000 civilians have been killed and more than 52,000 wounded in Afghanistan since 2009 when officials started documenting the casualties, according to the UN.