Taliban omits its own attacks in civilian casualty claims

Salaam Times and AFP


Afghans last August 14 stand next to coffins containing corpses on a roadside after a Taliban attack on Ghazni city. Afghan forces drove  Taliban fighters out of the stategic city of Ghazni August 15. [ZAKERIA HASHIMI/AFP]

KABUL -- The Taliban failed to include attacks for which it claimed responsibility and made the incredible claim that it had not caused a single civilian death or injury in 2018, according to a report released by the group last Friday (January 4).

The data -- which NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan dismissed as "propaganda" -- follow a record year of bloodshed in the Afghan war.

The figures, which the Taliban release every year and are based on "witnesses and primary sources", showed a total of 4,170 civilian casualties -- 2,294 deaths and 1,876 wounded -- last year.

US and "stooge" Afghan government forces caused 3,705 casualties, while "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and other "unknown" entities were responsible for 465, the Taliban claimed.


A photo released by the Taliban shows its fighters training last November. [File]

Rejecting the figures, Resolute Support said the Taliban continued "to inflict great harm on Afghan civilians".

"Over the last few months alone, the Taliban has carried out a host of atrocities against their own countrymen," the NATO mission said in a statement.

The total civilian casualties cited by the Taliban are about half the number reported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for the first nine months of 2018.

UNAMA's last report in October found the majority of civilian casualties were caused by militants, including the Taliban. Its full-year tally is expected to be released next month.

The Taliban's report omitted a number of major attacks that deliberately targeted civilians and were claimed by the group.

They included a bomb-laden ambulance that detonated on a crowded street in Kabul last January, killing more than 100 people and wounding hundreds more.

The Taliban also carried out a devastating raid on a luxury hotel in Kabul in the same month that killed at least 25 people.

The group went on a blood-soaked rampage in Ghazni in August, in which the destruction was devastating: the Taliban killed and wounded hundreds of civilians, including women and children, burned houses and businesses, and committed crimes against humanity.

And the group has been widely blamed for last month's attack on a government compound in Kabul that killed more than 40.

The Taliban has been long accused of using civilians as human shields in fighting against the government.

The Taliban's report comes as international efforts to convince the militants to end the 17-year war gather pace.

Many Taliban members have been disillusioned by the spike in brutal Taliban violence against civilians.

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