The United Nations mission in Afghanistan today condemned the abduction and killing of six civilians in the western province of Herat.
“Attacks against civilians are prohibited at all times and may amount to war crimes,” the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement, which notes that the Taliban have claimed responsibility for these recent killings.
International humanitarian law defines civilians as all those who do not take a direct part in hostilities and who are not combatants.
Among the civilians executed were five employees of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian non-governmental organization and a local staff member of the National Solidarity Program.
IRC is the local implementing partner for the National Solidarity Program, a development scheme aimed at improving humanitarian conditions and economic opportunities for ordinary Afghans in rural communities throughout the country, UNAMA said.
The Mission extended its condolences to the families of those killed in the attack.
Civilians have been increasingly targeted in Afghanistan, a reverse in the decline recorded in 2012.
In its mid-year report on the protection of civilians, UNAMA noted that the number of Afghan civilians killed or injured in the first half of 2013 rose by 23 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Some 1,319 civilians were killed and 2,533 injured – a total of 3,852 civilian casualties – in the first half of 2013.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, attributed the rise to the indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the deliberate targeting of civilians by anti-Government elements, urging them to be stopped.