Taliban Attacks Increased in Kabul, Says SIGAR

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says Taliban attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul are on the rise, with increasing targeted killings of government officials, civil society leaders and journalists.

The US watchdog in a report said that the proportion of casualties caused by improvised explosive devices increased by nearly 17 percent in this quarter, correlating with an increase in magnetically attached IEDs or “sticky bomb” attacks.

“Enemy attacks in Kabul were higher than during the previous quarter,” the report quoted the US forces in Afghanistan as saying. “They were much higher than in the same quarter last year.”

Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, reported 2,586 civilian casualties from October 1 to December 31 last year, including 810 killed and 1,776 wounded, according to the SIGAR report.

Despite the ongoing violence, casualties across Afghanistan in the last quarter of 2020 decreased by 14 percent, compared with the previous quarter. The quarter did, however, see an exceptionally high number of casualties for the winter months when fighting normally subsides.

By the end of 2020, Afghanistan’s unemployment rate was projected to rise to 37.9 percent, up from 23.9 percent in 2019, said the report.

“As the footprint of US agencies continues to shrink, it will become more important that the US and other donors perform aggressive and effective oversight of its dollars and programs,” said Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John F Sopko.

The authorised goal strength of Afghan defence forces has been adjusted downward to 208,000 personnel, the SIGAR report said. It had been roughly 227,000 for many years.

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