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ICRC concerned about rise in civilian casualties

KABUL: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday said it was concerned about a rise in civilian casualties in Afghanistan after the Taliban launched their spring offensive.

“We are deeply worried by the increased number of attacks in the past few weeks and the heavy toll they have taken on the Afghan population,” said Dominik Stillhart, ICRC’s director of operations, during a visit to Kabul.

The Taliban launched their spring offensive on Friday last with a huge attack on northern Kunduz province, where fierce clashes still continuing.

Stillhart said the indiscriminate nature of an attack in Jalalabad on 18 April represented an alarming trend. The attack left at least 33 people dead and more than 100 injured and no group has so far claimed responsibility for it.

President Ashraf Ghani had blamed the Jalalabad attack on the self-styled Islamic State group, but the group later denied its involvement.

“Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are not diminishing, but growing. We see the fighting is increasing in intensity,” Stillhart said.

The ICRC said in a statement it helped 345 wounded people reach health facilities in the first three months of this year, up 19 percent on the same period last year.

Stillhart insisted continued flow of humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. “It is simply vital, at this time, that donors maintain their commitment to the most vulnerable in Afghanistan.”

During his visit, Stillhart met senior Afghan officials and discussed a number of issues relating to detention, health and assistance provided to displaced people, added the statement. (PAN)

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