KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United Nations said Sunday that 600 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan's war in the first quarter of this year, a marked decline from the same period last year, but said the number of wounded civilians has risen.
The latest figures released by the U.N. mission show that 1,343 people were wounded during the first three months of 2016. Compared to the same period in 2015, civilian deaths are down by 13 percent but the number of wounded has risen by 11 percent.
The highest number of casualties resulted from civilians being harmed during ground fighting, the U.N. report said, adding that intensified fighting in populated areas caused a nearly 30 percent increase in child casualties and a 5 percent increase in casualties among women.
"Even if a conflict intensifies, it does not have to be matched by corresponding civilian suffering provided parties take their international humanitarian law and human rights obligations seriously," Nicholas Haysom, the U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, said in a statement.
"Failure to respect humanitarian obligations will result in more suffering in a nation that has suffered enough." he added.
The U.N. said 60 percent of casualties were caused by "actions by anti-government elements," apparently referring to the Taliban. The insurgents have denied previous allegations of targeting civilians or putting them in danger.
The report said 19 percent of casualties were caused by pro-government forces, while 16 percent could not be attributed to a specific party.