The Afghan air force is poised to take a major step forward in 2016 with the initial deployment of the A-29 Super Tucano, an attack plane bought by the Pentagon to give the Afghan military the ability to drop bombs in combat. But before the plane has flown a single combat mission, a new report suggests the Afghan military is struggling to avoid killing civilians with the other aircraft it already has.
The number of civilians killed by the Afghan air force increased almost eight times between the first half of 2015 and the second, according to a new report on protecting civilians in armed conflict by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. The organization recorded five civilians killed and 23 injured by the Afghan air force between January and and June 2015, and 41 killed and 57 injured in the latter half of the year.
Counting both coalition and Afghan airstrikes, the number of children killed or wounded in aerial operations increased 69 percent in 2015 with 36 killed and 55 wounded, according to UNAMA’s report. Despite carrying out far fewer missions than the coalition, Afghan pilots caused 49 of those 91 casualties, the organization found.
“UNAMA is concerned that this trend that may increase as the Afghan Air Force fields more combat aircraft in 2016,” the report said.
The report adds that overall, civilian casualties caused by aerial operations in Afghanistan increased 8 percent in 2015, with 149 killed and 147 more injured. The U.S.-led military coalition caused 57 percent of those casualties, with 42 killed and 43 injured in the Oct. 3 U.S. strike on a hospital in Kunduz province, according to UNAMA’s report. Previous accounts of the incidenthave found that at least 30 civilians were killed there. The U.S. has attributed the case to human error and procedural failures.
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