Dozens of civilians were reportedly killed in the latest cycle of violence between Afghan forces and the Taliban in the last 72 hours. Among the casualties are women and minors, many of whom lost their lives after heavy airstrikes, shelling, and firing in Lashkargah, Kandahar, Khost, and Paktia.
According to Afghan forces, the presence of the Taliban in the area prompted the attack, which resulted in damage to Shaheed Anwar Khan High School and a health clinic in Lashkargah. Tolo News reported that the Lashkargah district has seen violent clashes for the past 10 days. Despite guaranteeing to end military operations by August 31, the US has committed more aircraft and drones.
In its statement, United Nations Children’s Emergency Funds stated that at least 27 children were killed, mainly in Kandahar, followed by Khost and Paktia. Another 136 were critically wounded in ongoing fighting between August 6 and 8.
On Sunday evening, August 8, the fighting also intensified in Kunduz province. As per the health officials, at least 14 bodies, including women and children, and 30 injured were brought to the hospital, following the heavy exchange of fire that intensified in Kunduz city, Sar-e-Pol, and Taloqan. The insurgent Taliban immediately captured the three provincial capitals in northern Afghanistan. According to the reports, the frontlines have been dragged into cities where the population density is higher than rural areas, increasing civilian fatalities.
As per the local media, the Afghan government led by Ashraf Ghani is struggling to confront the armed groups amidst the delayed intra-Afghan peace negotiations, opening new battlefronts. Ever since the US troop withdrawal, insurgents have captured over 400 districts. The attacks on provincial centers have escalated, particularly after May and June. The Taliban’s rapid takeover of many provinces invokes fear about Afghan forces’ failure to defend the government-controlled territories.
On August 7, the Taliban’s spokesperson Zabihullah Muhajid, took responsibility for carrying out an attack that killed Afghan forces pilot Hamidullah Azimi. The pilot was reportedly killed by a bomb attached to his vehicle. He worked with Afghan forces for four years and was trained to fly UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
In July, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that there was an acute rise in the number of civilian casualties following the withdrawal of US forces which began in May. The UNMA’s Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Midyear Update 2021 report documented at least 5,183 civilian casualties.
Besides losing lives in direct violence, the severe floods in Nuristan’s Kamdesh have also affected more than 4,000 people. On July 29, the natural disaster in eastern Afghanistan killed 113 people. At least 200 continue to remain missing. Humanitarian assistance groups estimated nearly 32,213 Afghans have been affected by natural disasters, majorly by floods, in 2021.