KABUL, Afghanistan 

The UN blamed Afghan government forces Tuesday for more than 170 civilian casualties in April amid an escalating war on the heels of immovable peace talks.

Preliminary figures by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) indicated casualties attributed to government forces numbered 172 civilians, an increase of 38% compared to April 2019 and 37% higher than March 2020.

“I call for a halt to the fighting and for parties to respect humanitarian law that is there to protect civilians,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons.

“Parties have committed to finding a peaceful solution and should protect the lives of all Afghans and not jeopardize people’s hope for an end to the war,” said Lyons, who heads the UNAMA. “Intra-Afghan peace negotiations need to start as soon as possible.”

In response to UN data, the National Security Council said its figures from April shows the Taliban killed 141 civilians and wounded 285 through indiscriminate means such as IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and targeted attacks such as assassinations.

The UN’s figures on casualties by the Taliban found insurgents responsible for 208 civilian casualties in April, a 25% increase compared to April 2019 and at similar levels to March 2020.

The UN expressed grave concerns about levels of violence in the first half of May, including recent attacks claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) or Daesh/ISIS.

The Daesh/ISIS-claimed attack on a Kabul hospital maternity ward May 12 resulted in at least 24 civilians killed, almost all female patients, that left many newborn babies motherless.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said Tuesday it repulsed a major Taliban attack in northern Kunduz city that killed at least 40 Taliban and wounded more than 50 others.

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