The United Nations on Wednesday said it was ‘gravely concerned’ by reports of an operation by pro-government forces in Afghanistan’s south-eastern Paktia province that killed at least 11 civilians.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a tweet said ‘harm to civilians must stop,’ noting that the ‘search operation’ took place during the Eid holidays.
A provincial council member, Allah Mir Khan Bahramzoi, put the number of civilians killed at 13 and said most of them were university students, as well as a school headmaster. They were reportedly killed in an operation that took place on Sunday night.
The operation, according to Bahramzoi, was conducted by Afghan security forces and took place in Zurmat district of the province.
According to a quarterly report published by UNAMA at the end of July, pro-government forces have killed more civilians than anti-government elements in the first six months of the year, though militants have caused more civilian injuries.
Afghan security forces and foreign allies killed 717 civilians, while militants killed 531. In total, 1,366 civilians were killed in the conflict, a decrease of 21 per cent on the same period last year.
However, the total number of people killed or injured by pro-government forces rose to 1,397, a 31-per-cent increase, with search operations and airstrikes the main cause, UNAMA said.
Civilian casualties caused by anti-government elements, including the Taliban and Islamic State, totalled 1,968, down 43 per cent on last year.