2014 deadliest year for Helmand civilians: AIHRC
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Civilian casualties in bomb blasts, suicide attacks, clashes and other violent incidents rose by 65 percent in southern Helmand province in 2014, a senior human rights official said on Wednesday.
Mohammad Bilal Siddiqui, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) head for Helmand, told Pajhwok in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, that a total of 1,055 civilians suffered casualties last year -- 296 killed and 759 maimed.
He said 2014 was more deadly year for civilians in Helmand than 2013 when 177 civilians were killed and 218 others injured.
Siddiqui explained most of the casualties last year were caused by roadside bombings and suicide attacks carried out by Taliban militants in various parts of the province, particularly Lashkargah.
He blamed the insurgents for most of the deaths, saying civilians had also been killed in security forces’ operations. The human rights official demanded the Taliban abide by international laws and avoid killing civilians in roadside and suicide blasts.
Siddiqui also said the government should avoid using heavy weapons in residential areas. He said Afghan local police had not been professionally trained and they lacked knowledge about human rights.
The provincial Human Rights Commission also demanded the government bring to justice those responsible for civilian deaths and keep civilian lives protected.
Hajji Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, Helmand’s deputy governor, confirmed 2014 had been the bloodiest year so far and claimed that security forces had been trying their best to avoid civilian casualties. He accused Taliban militants of causing all civilian casualties, but he had no exact figures.
Citing an example, he said only two civilians had been killed during forty days of an ongoing operation “Zulfikar” in the province. At least 16 civilians have been killed and another 71 injured in three car bomb attacks in Lashkargah over the past two weeks.
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