UN reports Afghan child casualties soar as urban warfare intensifies

KABUL - Urban warfare has caused a spike in deaths and injuries among women and children in Afghanistan this year as the Taliban intensifies their campaign against the Kabul government, the United Nations said on Sunday.
In all, 161 children were killed from January to March and 449 were injured, a 29 percent rise over the first three months of 2015, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said.
"If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas - particularly mortars and IED tactics, these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed will continue," UNAMA human rights director Danielle Bell said in a statement.
Overall civilian casualties in the period reached 1,943, including 600 deaths and 1,343 injuries. The number of deaths was down 13 percent from the first quarter of 2105 but the number of injuries was 11 percent higher.
Almost a third of casualties were children and there was a five percent rise in women being killed or injured, reflecting an increase in fighting in built-up areas as the Taliban has pressed its insurgency. Fifty two women were killed and 143 injured during the period.
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