Afghan officials and mourners perform funeral prayers over the coffin of Angiza Shinwari, a provincial member, in Jalalabad on Feb. 16, 2015.
Noorullah Shirzada—AFP/Getty Images
By Sam Frizell
February 18, 2015

More civilians died in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the year the United Nations began keeping records in 2009, signaling a new level of violence and ground engagements between Taliban insurgents and the embattled Kabul-based government.

The U.N. said Wednesday that it documented 10,548 civilian casualties in 2014, including almost 3,700 deaths, a 25% rise in fatalities over the year before. It was the first year casualties surpassed 10,000 since record-keeping began in 2009.

The bloodshed has been caused primarily by the change in ground warfare, with fewer American-led coalition troops fighting and less air support available to keep the Taliban from massing in large groups. Afghan troops are facing the insurgents in a head-on fight, increasing casualties on the ground.

“In communities across Afghanistan, increased ground fighting among parties to the conflict and more IED attacks exacted a heavy toll on Afghan civilians,” said the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom. “Rising civilian deaths and injuries in 2014 attests to a failure to fulfill commitments to protect Afghan civilians from harm.”

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