Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Death of Innocent Civilians Continues Unabated

Suicide attacks, road-side bombings and instances of assaults on civilians have sharply risen in recent months. The United Nations in Afghanistan has released a report concluding that the month of May has been the deadliest month for civilians since at least 2007 when the organization started keeping records of civilian deaths.

In one day alone on Saturday, June 11 2011, at least 21 people were killed in various bombings and suicide attacks throughout the country making this day one of the deadliest in the current year. 16 civilians most of them women and children were brutally killed when the minibus they were traveling in hit a roadside bomb, actually intended for NATO troops, in Khakrez district of Kandahar province.

A local police chief was killed along with 3 others, one of them a child, in the eastern province of Khost. In yet another shocking incident, an ice-cream cart pusher in Ghazni province blew up his explosives when children had gathered around him to buy ice-cream killing one of them and wounding three more.

According to the United Nations, the past month of May, being the bloodiest in recent years saw 368 people killed and 593 others injured throughout Afghanistan. 82% of the civilian deaths, an overwhelming majority, have been the result of Taliban and other insurgent groups' bombings and suicide attacks while the deaths due to NATO bombings account for only 3% of total death toll.

While these outrageously high numbers of civilian casualties clearly portray in its entirety the evil nature of war, it also shows the duplicity and hypocrisy of Taliban and other militant groups. Civilians, women and children have increasingly been the target of Taliban and their allies when these groups claim they are solely fighting the government and international forces. In June of 2009, Mullah Omar had issued an order directing his forces not to harm civilians.

However, Taliban's deliberate targeting of civilians in recent months is a clear about-face by them that shows they are ready to kill civilians as well to wreak more havoc and destruction. According to eyewitness accounts from battlefields, Taliban and other militants almost routinely flee to hide in civilian houses after every firefight and ambush and thus expose the surrounding civilians to bombings and attacks from international forces.

These acts effectively amount to using civilians as human shields. There are clear-cut international guidelines aiming at preventing civilian casualties that all parties to a war must adhere to. The Fourth Geneva Convention related to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is applicable also to the war in Afghanistan.

But more than the international forces, it is the anti-government militants who do not care the least about such universally-binding conventions. As the case with any other war, it is always the innocent civilians who are made to pay the ultimate price with their lives.