KABUL: Pakistani forces have killed 23 and injured 48 Afghan civilians as result of their cross border mortar attacks at least in four Afghan provinces near the so-called Durand Line in 2017, a violation that even “concerned” the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNAMA), a new report revealed Thursday.
“UNAMA is concerned at the significant increase in civilian casualties caused by shelling from (other side of the Durand Line by Pakistan (forces) into Afghanistan” the UN mission said in its 2017 Afghan Civilian Casualties report in Kabul.
Report found at least 29 cross border shelling in 2017 caused 71 civilian casualties (23 deaths and 48 injured) over the triple of incidents and more than four times the number of civilian casualties compared to 2016.
It said shelling from Pakistan side of the line into Afghanistan impacted civilians mainly in the Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, accounting for 42 civilian casualties (16 deaths and 26 injured) due to 23 incidents.
It also caused the displacement of over 650 families and the destruction of more than 25 homes as well as livestock and other property.
Citing an instance of the cross border shelling the report said on 21 September, 2017, 37 mortar rounds fired from Pakistani side of the line into Nazyan district of eastern Nangarhar province, killed two boys and injured three others, and displaced many families.
The increase in civilian casualties from cross-border shelling correlates with the six-fold increase in the number of artillery rounds reportedly fired across the Durand Line in 2017 compared to 2016, UN said while not mentioning the exact number of mortars.
But Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, General. Dawlat Waziri confirmed Pakistani forces fired 8,000 rounds of mortars to the Afghan side of the Durand Line in 2017.
However, UNAMA said cross-border shelling “severely impacted” livelihoods. “On 4 July, one of the 40 artillery rounds fired from Pakistan into Sarkano district, Kunar province, damaged a civilian home and killed four cows.”
UNAMA also documented civilian casualties caused by shelling in the Spin Boldak area of southern Kandahar province, and two incidents during the first semester of 2017 (one in Kunar province and one in Khost province) in which Pakistan Military Forces “shot dead civilian shepherds near the border.”
In another incident on 29 September, in Nangarhar province, Pakistan Military Forces shot death a boy, reported as having psychological problems, who did not obey a stop order.
By Kadwal, Kabul