Afghanistan War Sees Civilian Deaths At Record High in 2018
Afghan civilians killed in fighting involving NATO troops and Taliban in Narang district of Kunar Province in Afghanistan | 27 December 2009 | (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The number of civilians killed in the long-running war in Afghanistan has reached a record high in the first six months of 2018, according to the UN.

In the latest figures released on Sunday by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 1,692 civilians were killed during the first six months of 2018 - the most recorded in the period over the last decade since the agency began documentation of such deaths.

The report comes as at least seven people were killed in an attack on the rural development ministry in Kabul.

The Afghan government had declared a truce with the Taliban and invited them for peace talks but this did not see any respite in attacks and bombings that have targeted scores across the country. "The brief ceasefire demonstrated that the fighting can be stopped and that Afghan civilians no longer need to bear the brunt of the war," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, UNAMA head and the UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, as he urged all parties to find a peaceful solution.

The report, by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), says the number of recorded deaths rose by 1% compared with the same period last year.

However, the report adds, injuries fell by 5% to 3,430, and the total number of civilian casualties - accounting for deaths and injuries - dropped by 3% to 5,122.

The UN figures also showed a 15 percent drop in child and women casualties - at 1,355 and 544 respectively - but UNAMA voiced grave concern over the human cost of the conflict.

"In the first six months of 2018, the armed conflict continued to destroy the lives and livelihoods of civilians at the same toxic levels as last year," the report said.

The UNAMA report attributed 42 percent of the civilian casualties to the Afghan Taliban and 18 percent to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), noting a fourfold increase in deaths and injuries caused by both the armed groups.

Earlier this month, Nato leaders gathered at a summit in Brussels to discuss the conflict in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has said it is planning a strategic review a year after President Donald Trump agreed to remain involved in the 17-year conflict.

The U.S.-led invasion drove the hardline Taliban from power in 2001, as part of a crackdown on Islamist militants after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.