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More women, children dying in Afghan war

KABUL — The United Nations said Wednesday that a growing number of women and children are getting hurt or killed in Afghanistan's war against the Taliban and other insurgents.

The total number of casualties in the conflict was up 1 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year, a new UN report said. However, the number of women casualties rose by 23 percent and children by 13 percent.

Danielle Bell, director of the Human Rights Unit at the UN's Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, blamed ground fighting for the alarming rise in casualties. The mission attributed 70 percent of civilian casualties to insurgent forces.

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She said the UN was not able to verify whether the Taliban used civilians as human shields.

Afghanistan's security forces have been fighting the Taliban alone since US and NATO forces ended their combat mission last year. The Taliban have sought to take advantage by escalating their attacks, spreading their footprint from the south and east to the north, and joining forces with other insurgent groups.

Associated Press