A massive truck bomb struck the center of Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 80 and injuring up to 400 civilians. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) counted 11,400 civilian casualties for 2016 (3,500 deaths and 7,900 injured). The figure has almost doubled since 2009, when UNAMA began collecting the figures.
The most common cause of death and injury still are ground engagements, meaning battles between the warring factions, such as government forces and Taliban fighters. As our infographic shows suicide bombs, like the recent one in Kabul, are the third most common causes of casualties among civilians. Suicide bombs are often just one part in more complex attacks, in which assailant for example then storm into a building to go on killing.
Another persistent cause of harm are the so-called improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are often dug into the ground by the roadside by insurgents in order to attack military or police convoys. Many of these devices hit civilian cars instead of military vehicles. Overall, most casualties among civilians are caused by anti-government forces (mainly Taliban), as many of their attacks intentionally target civilians to cause terror.
Especially in conflicts like in Afghanistan, where the warring factions do not all wear uniforms, most notably the Taliban, it can be hard to make a clear distinction between civilians and non-civilian combatants.