With Just Months Left In The US Mission, Bloodshed In Afghanistan Has Surged This Year

AfghanistanOmar Sobhani/ReutersAn Afghan national army soldier stands guard next to a bus which was hit by a remote-controlled bomb at the site of an incident in Kabul on October 21, 2014.

Casualties in Afghanistan are climbing for everyone except coalition and US soldiers, according to a report by the Pentagon Inspector General in charge of investigating US-led reconstruction efforts in the country.

US troops have taken on an advisory and training role in the past two years, in preparation for their exit from the country by the end of 2014.

That translates to lower American casualties: 49 American soldiers have been killed in the country this year, which would be the lowest annual rate in over a decade if it holds.

But last month, the UN Secretary-General reported on violent incidents in Afghanistan overall, which are at their second-highest clip ever. The latest quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) represents these statistics as an average of 71.8 “security incidents” per day, a rate only surpassed in 2011.

Civilian deaths and injuries have increased to levels on par with those of that same year, the UN found in a separate report, while Afghan ministries have just stopped releasing police and military casualty data after a particularly bloody 2013.

Here’s the SIGAR report’s breakdown of security incidents in 2014:

SIGAR Violence Afghanistan Security Incidents

Armed clashes made up nearly half of these incidents, while improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were responsible for 30% of them.

This continues a trend the UN noted during the first six months of this year: mortars, RPGs, and small-arms fire near population centres are responsible for a growing share of civilian deaths.

“The nature of the conflict in Afghanistan is changing in 2014,” a UN official said in a statement accompanying the research, “with an escalation of ground engagements in civilian-populated areas.”

Alongside reports of a Taliban force growing in ambition and military initiative, these numbers paint a worrying picture of the legacy that the 13-year-long US-led effort in Afghanistan may leave behind.

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