Civilian casualties caused by Taliban in 2019 topped 7,000

By Sulaiman


Security personnel and investigators gather at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul last November 13. At least seven people were killed and seven wounded when a car bomb detonated during Kabul's busy morning rush hour. [STR/AFP]

KABUL -- Taliban attacks last year killed and injured 7,391 civilians in what observers say constitute war crimes and a violation of Islamic principles.

"From January 1 until the end of December in 2019, 7,391 civilians were killed and injured in the Taliban's attacks," said Marwa Amini, a deputy spokesperson for the Interior Ministry.

"In order to reach their evil and destructive goals, the Taliban in 2019 perpetrated suicide attacks in various parts of the country that resulted in killing and injuring 2,219 and 5,172 civilians, respectively," said Amini.

"Most of the civilians were killed in the Taliban's suicide attacks and explosions of mines they planted," she said.

"The Taliban don't have the courage to directly face the Afghan security forces on the battlefields," she added. "They target civilians by perpetrating suicide attacks and planting mines and thus spread violence [and fear]."

The Afghan security forces are committed to ensuring security for civilians, and unlike the Taliban, they comply with laws and principles of war during their military activities, said Amini.

"One of our goals last year was to decrease the casualties of civilians and security forces during [armed] clashes," she said. "Fortunately, this solar year, in addition to a decrease in civilian casualties [accidentally caused by troops], the security forces' casualties have dropped by 10%."

Principles of war

"Civilians, especially women and children, are killed and injured in most of the Taliban's attacks," said Masood Ahmad Jaamay, 27, a resident of Kabul city and a student at Kabul University. "The Taliban don't care for the lives of civilians as they pursue only their goals."

"Civilian casualties ... increase by every passing day and year, especially in the Taliban's attacks, and this shows that the Taliban have no desire to stop killing Afghans," said Jaamay.

"The Taliban violate principles of war, and they unfortunately consider killing civilians a victory," he added.

"The Taliban are responsible for civilian casualties because they have no plan for the fighting, and they haven't done anything in the past two decades to lower or prevent civilian casualties," he said.

"The Taliban have often targeted civilians," said Abdul Zaher Salangi, a member of the Wolesi Jirga from Parwan Province.

"This group doesn't strike military targets in their suicide attacks and bombings, but it commits suicide attacks and bombings in crowded parts of cities and among the public," he said. "This act of the Taliban is definitely against the laws and principles of war."

"Those who are killed in the Taliban's suicide attacks and bombings are 99% civilian," said Salangi.

Taliban cause misery

"Most of the Taliban's attacks lack a [specific] target," said Asma Sultani, 33, a resident of Kabul. "They undertake suicide attacks and plant mines, and they don't care who is killed."

The killing of civilians is a war crime, a clear breach of international humanitarian law and a violation of Islamic principles, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

"Unfortunately, we witnessed an increase in civilian casualties in 2019," said Naeem Nazari, deputy chief of the AIHRC. "This year, mostly women and children suffered harm."

"[All] parties to the conflict contribute to the increase in civilian casualties, but most of the casualties have been caused by the armed opposition," said Nazari. "They have had a larger role in increasing civilian casualties. Bombings, suicide attacks and targeted killings are reasons behind increased civilian losses."

"Recently, the Afghan government has taken thoughtful measures that have helped reduce civilian casualties," he said.

"Targeting civilians is a clear breach of international humanitarian law and is [considered] a war crime," said Nazari.

"Our specific demand is that parties to the conflict plan their military activities proportionately with their goals so that civilians, public installations, sacred places and especially women and children don't experience any harm," he added. "[They] should distinguish combatants from civilians."

"Aimless and blind attacks that the Taliban undertake are a breach of human rights, a war crime and a violation of Islamic principles," said Salangi, the member of the Wolesi Jirga. "I hope they are one day prosecuted in national or international courts [of law]."

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