March proves brutal than February, 984 killed
KABUL (Pajhwok): More than 1,600 people suffered casualties in Afghanistan last month (March), showing a 13 percent surge over February’s toll, Pajhwok Afghan News has learnt.
The month saw attacks by insurgents merely declining as there were 137 attacks in March compared to 139 in February, when 1,400 people were killed and wounded ---14 percent up over January’s casualties.
Reports show 984 people were killed and 650 others wounded in attacks during the month of March, indicating no let-up in violence.
The dead and wounded included insurgents, government forces and civilians. However, Pajhwok could not publish exact casualty figures because various sources provided different accounts and the differentiation was impossible.
According to Pajhwok daily reports based on different sources,the armed attacks in Marchtook place in 23 provinces of the country’s total 34.
There were 60 face-to-face clashes, 30 targeted attacks, 27 airstrikes, 11 explosions, seven suicide attacks and two roadside explosions in March.
Among every 22 people, nine were killed and wounded in the direct engagement, six in airstrikes, and four in suicide attacks, two in targeted attacks and one in blasts.
Pajhwok reports show 64 of the attacks last month occurred in Nangarhar, Kandahar, Ghazni, and Helmand provinces and the remaining 73 in 19 other provinces.
There was no report of violence from Badakhshan, Balkh, Daikundi, Ghor, MaidanWardak, Nuristan, Paktia, Panjsher, Kunar and Parwan provinces in March.
In February, most of the attacks happened in Nangarhar, Faryab and Helmand province and Pajhwok did not receive conflict-related reports from Panjsher, Daikundi, MaidanWardak, Ghor, Nimroz, Nuristan, Parwan, Sar-i-Pul and Badghis provinces.
Most of the attacks took place on March 4 when 12 incidents of violence were reported butthe deadliest day was March 1 when 181 people were killed and wounded.
Half of the total causalities in March were recorded in the first eight days.
Half to the last month’s causalities took place in Nangarhar, Kabul and Kandahar provinces and around 100 people were killed and wounded in Helmand, 90 in Laghman, as many in Farah and the reaming in 17 other provinces.
Compared to February, there was one percent decrease in the number of attacks in March but causalities surged by 13 percent.
Over 1,400 people were killed and wounded in February’s 139 attacks against 1,600 casualties in March’s 137 attacks.
Brig. Gen. Mohammad Radmnish, deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), said security operationswere underway as planned. He said insurgent activities decreased in March after they were defeated on the battlefield.
About the surge in civilian casualties, he said militants carried out suicide attacks in public places due to which casualties had gone up.
He said most of the dead and wounded in the attack on the SardarDaud Khan military hospital in Kabul were civilians.
Fifty people were killed and 31 others wounded in the Daesh-claimed attack on the 400-bed military hospital on March 8.
Rebel attacks in public places are blamed for the increasing casualties when most of casualties in March resulted from ground battles and airstrikes. In March, 375 people were killed and wounded in suicide attacks and blasts.
Military affairs expert ZalmaiWardak regarding the surge in casualties said: “Causalities depend on the nature of attack, when more attackers are involved, one should expect more causalities.”
He said Sangin district of southern Helmand province was the scene of fierce clashes between Taliban militants and security forces last month, when a large number of people were killed and wounded in the military hospital attack in Kabul.
He said the surge and decline in violence was linked to the techniques the warring parties applied.
Without going into details, he said: “Unfortunately an international conflict is ongoing in Afghanistan. The warring parties (government and militants) are being used as tools.Whenever the international players want they increase and decrease the fighting.”
There were more suicide attacks last month and both the sides used heavy weapons during clashes, he said.
Over 300 people were killed and wounded in nine suicide attacks in March. In February, nearly 100 people were killed and wounded in four suicide attacks.
Wrong assessment of decline in attacks:
Pajhwok report show during the last five months of 2016, on average nearly 70 people were killed and wounded, with one-third of the causalities happening in October last year. Then the attacks and causalities declined in December but again surged in winter months.
Government officials and experts had predicted a decline in violence with the arrival of winter.
Amarkhel said tactics were another name of fighting and those who used new tactics remained in command.
He said in the past fighting would decline in winter but militants had changed their strategy and shifted their focus towards relatively warm areas last winter. But the rebels also did not spare cold areas and continued their attacks, he added.
He said one reason might be that Pakistan forced Taliban leaders to go to their own areas and keep the fight on. The neighboring country wanted to show it was against terrorism and did not allow terrorists to operate its soil, he believed.
Defence Ministry deputy spokesman Brig. Gen. Radmnish said: “The enemies of Afghanistan with the help of outsiders had sworn not to put down their weapons, therefore they continued attacks in winter.”
He said Islamabad under pressure from the internationally community only pushed the insurgents into Afghanistan and did not take real action against them.
Fear due to possible surge in violence:
War victims and some countrymen want peace and stability in the country. They fear a violent summer looking at attacks in winter.
JameelGhafoori, a resident of Dehmazang area of Kabul, said there were more attacks this winter, killing civilians including young men and intellectuals.
Ghafoori, who prayed for lasting peace in the country, said Afghan officials should adopt a logical approach towards peace in the country.
He asked the warring parties to renounce violence and stop killing of Afghans.
BahnamBehroz was among those killed in the attack on the 400-bed hospital in Kabul. His brother --- BehzadBehroz --- told Pajhwok Afghan News his brother loved Afghanistan and it people. After completing his studies abroad, he returned to Afghanistan to serve the people.
Struggling with tears, Behzad hoped the ongoing conflict in the country would end and the killing of Afghans would stop.
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