Kabul, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- The Afghan conflict left more than 2,500 civilian casualties in the last quarter of 2020, with a significant increase in the use of explosive devices, according to the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The quarterly report said that between October and December, 810 civilians were killed and 1,776 injured, a number that remains exceptionally high for the winter months when fighting normally subsides.
According to this data, deaths from explosive devices increased by 17 percent during the said period. The uptick in “sticky bomb” attacks in urban areas, particularly Kabul, has been linked to the country’s spiral of targeted attacks in recent months.
Targeted attacks on reporters, activists, politicians and intellectuals in urban areas increased significantly in 2020 as shootings and bomb attacks on the vehicles of victims became almost a regular occurrence in the country.
The report also spoke of an increase in the ground operations against the Taliban by the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF).
“The 1,152 ASSF ground operations conducted this quarter were nearly double the number conducted during the same period last year (587),” said the SIGAR report.
The increase in operations was attributed to greater operational responsibility of Afghan forces, following an agreement between the United States and the Taliban to carry out only defensive attacks.
Ninety four percent of ASSF operations were conducted independent of the support or accompaniment of the international coalition forces, as the number of US troops in Afghanistan stands at its lowest since 2001.
The number of US troops have shrunk to about 2,500 in recent months from the 12,000 a year ago, following a the historic agreement between Washington and the insurgents signed in the Qatari capital of Doha in February 2020.
However, the US forces increased defensive airstrikes in the last quarter to support Afghan troops, said the SIGAR report, the first one under the new administration under President Joe Biden.
The report also underlined that the attacks perpetrated by the Taliban increased compared to the same period in 2019, particularly in Kabul.
These occurred mainly in the form of “targeted assassinations of Afghan government officials, civil-society leaders, and journalists.” EFE-EPA