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UN: Civilian deaths by Taliban and Afghan forces on the rise

The United Nations calls for an immediate reduction of violence in Afghanistan, saying civilian deaths by both Taliban and Afghanistan’s own security forces is on the increase.

In a statement, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, also expresses concern about the stepped-up attacks and brutality of assaults claimed by the Islamic State group.

A horrific attack last week at a maternity hospital in the capital has not been claimed by any group, but the United States said it bears all the hallmarks of Afghanistan’s IS affiliate — targeting the country’s minority Shiites in a neighborhood of Kabul they have repeatedly attacked in the past.

The has Taliban denied involvement in the maternity hospital attack, which killed 24 people, including two infants and several new mothers, calling it “vile.”

The UN report blames the Taliban for killing 208 civilians in April, while 172 civilians were killed in the month by the Afghan National Security and Defense Force.

“Parties have committed to finding a peaceful solution and should protect the lives of all Afghans and not jeopardize people’s hope for an end to the war,” says Deborah Lyons, the UNAMA head and the UN Secretary- General’s Special Representative to Afghanistan.

“Intra-Afghan peace negotiations need to start as soon as possible,” she says.

— AP

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