Taliban attack on Kunduz killed, injured 848 Afghan civilians: UN

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photo, taken on November 10, 2015, staff members walk through the damaged Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations (UN) says the recent offensive on the northern Afghan city of Kunduz by Taliban militants killed at least 289 civilians and wounded 559 others.

A report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which was released on Saturday, documented the abuses in Kunduz committed by Taliban during the offensive, which took place in the city and the districts surrounding it between September 28 and October 13.

“The vast majority of casualties documented so far resulted from ground fighting that could not be attributed solely to one party,” the UNAMA report read.

According to the report, the 848 Afghan casualties includes 67 people killed and injured during a US air strike on a hospital in the northern city run by the medical charity group Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

It said the figures could further climb as more information became available, adding that poor security conditions in the area meant that Afghan authorities had been unable to perform detailed investigations in Kunduz.

In this file photograph taken on November 10, 2015, a burnt-out vehicle of Doctors without Groups is seen inside the premises of a damaged hospital run by the group in Afghanistan. (Photo by AFP)

The UN report said, “The insecurity, absence of governance and the breakdown of rule of law during this period resulted in a loss of protection of the most basic human rights, including the rights to life and security of person.”

“This chaos enabled an environment in which arbitrary killings, and other forms of violence against civilians and civilian objects, criminality and destruction of civilian property took place,” it added.

The UNAMA further demanded an independent probe into the US’s aerial attack on the hospital, which it said may amount to a war crime if it is proved to be a deliberate strike.

According to official and press accounts, an estimated 150,000 people were trapped in Kunduz as a result of the Taliban offensive.

Taliban held Kunduz for three days before being pushed back by National Army forces.

Kunduz Province is considered a strategic region as it is located on a crossroads that connects the key regions of Afghanistan. It is also located along the country’s border with Tajikistan and could offer the militants the opportunity to establish a base in the north.

Afghanistan continues to face insecurity 14 years after the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. Although the Taliban militant group was removed from power as a result of the invasion, many areas in the country are still threatened by insecurity.

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