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Blasts in Afghan Mosque Kill 62 as UN Says Violence Across Country Causing 'Unprecedented' Level of Civilian Casualties

"Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable, especially in the context of the widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan."

A volunteer carries an injured youth to a hospital following a bomb blast in Haska Mina district of Nangarhar Province on October 18, 2019.

A volunteer carries an injured youth to a hospital following a bomb blast in Haska Mina district of Nangarhar Province on October 18, 2019. (Photo: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP via Getty Images)

Scores of people were killed Friday after blasts rocked a mosque in eastern Afghanistan—just a day after the United Nations said that civilian casualties in the country hit record levels.

The explosions in the province of Nagarhar came during Friday prayers. Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said that bombs had been placed inside the mosque. As of this writing, no group has claimed responsibility.

Children were among the 62 dead and 36 wounded, Khogyani said.

"It was a heartbreaking scene I witnessed," said tribal elder Malik Mohammadi Gul Shinwari.

On Thursday, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released new figures showing "an unprecedented number of civilian casualties."

During the three-month period from July 1 to September 30, UNAMA documented 4,313 civilian casualties, comprised of 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injured. That tally, said UNAMA, marks "the highest number of civilian casualties that it has recorded in a single quarter since it began systematic documentation in 2009." The figure also represents a 42 percent increase compared to the same three-month period in 2018.

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UNAMA attributed the increase mainly to anti-government forces, especially the Taliban. The U.N. noted that in the first half of the year, pro-government including U.S.-backed forces caused more civilian deaths.

The latest figures bring UNAMA's total so far in 2019 to 8,239 civilian casualties, representing 2,563 killed and 5,676 injured.

"Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly show the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population, including through a review of conduct during combat operations," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of UNAMA.

"The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan signals the importance of peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement to the conflict; there is no other way forward," he continued.

"Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable,"said Yamamoto, "especially in the context of the widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan."

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