Afghanistan: Mosque bombing, mounting civilian casualties demand world’s attention


Responding to the bombing of a mosque in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province that claimed the lives of at least 62 lives and wounded dozens, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, said:

“Such intentional killing of scores of civilians while at prayer is a war crime. This is not a war that is winding down, it is escalating and the people who are suffering the most are civilians. They are being killed in higher numbers than at any time over the past decade, at the hands of armed groups, but also in operations led by Afghan and international forces.

“The killing and maiming of Afghan civilians demands the world’s attention. Flagrant violations of international humanitarian law such as deliberate targeting of civilians are not something anyone should get used to or learn to ignore. There must be a determined effort to protect civilians, ensure respect for international humanitarian law, and hold the perpetrators accountable. Deliberate attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks are never acceptable.

“The situation in Afghanistan should also awaken us to the callous policies of many governments, who have been forcibly returning Afghans to a country that grows more dangerous by the day. It should also highlight the urgent need for justice, with the International Criminal Court facing an important decision on whether to reopen its investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides in the conflict.”


The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) revealed today that more civilians have been killed over the summer than at any point in the conflict. Between July and September 2019, 1,174 civilians were killed, according to UNAMA.

UNAMA previously reported that 2018 was the deadliest year on record, with more civilian and child deaths that any point since it began recording civilian casualties in 2009.

In April 2019, the judges at the International Criminal Court rejected the Office of the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides in the conflict, a decision widely seen as the Court capitulating to threats from the US administration. In December 2019, an ICC Appeals Chamber will hear the Prosecutor appeal of the decision.