UNAMA condemns killing of civilians in Ghazni

1 Jun 2014

UNAMA condemns killing of civilians in Ghazni

KABUL - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemns the killing of 12 civilians in Giro district, Ghazni province yesterday.

Two vehicles traveling to a wedding party hit two pressure-plate improvised explosive devices planted on the road, killing all passengers including six women, two girls, two boys and the two men driving the vehicles.

This incident reflects the grim reality of rising civilian casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan this year. UNAMA has documented 312 civilian deaths and 695 civilians injured by IEDs between 1 January and 22 May 2014. Of these, 104 civilians were killed and 118 injured (222 civilian casualties) by pressure-plate IEDs, a 39 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013 - reversing a decline in the use of pressure-plate devices documented in 2013.

“Rising civilian casualties in 2014 from IEDs, particularly indiscriminate pressure-plate IEDs, is extremely disturbing,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan. “I reiterate UNAMA’s call to all Anti-Government Elements to cease using these terrible weapons which have devastating consequences for civilians.”

Victim-activated pressure-plate IEDs function like massive anti-personnel land mines, which are a prohibited weapon under international law. These IEDs are particularly harmful as they are indiscriminate and are just as likely to be activated by a civilian as by a military object. They are detonated by any person, including children stepping on them or any vehicle such as civilian mini-buses driving over them.

UNAMA stresses that the use of indiscriminate victim-activated IEDs may amount to a war crime and is a serious violation of international humanitarian law which binds all parties – including Anti-Government Elements - to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

UNAMA notes that IEDs used by Anti-Government Elements is the leading cause of civilian deaths and injuries this year. UNAMA extends its condolences to the families of those killed.