The number of Afghans killed or wounded in suicide attacks soared 46 percent in the first nine months of 2018, the United Nations said Sunday, as militants increasingly target civilians.
Suicide bombs caused 2,343 civilian casualties, more than any other tactic, including ground fighting, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a special report on the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Afghan conflict.
Civilian casualties from all types of IEDs, including suicide bombs and pressure-plate mines, rose 21 percent from a year earlier to 3,634.
UNAMA warned the increasing number of "deliberate and indiscriminate attacks" against civilians constituted "serious violations of international humanitarian law" that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"The unpredictable nature of these types of attacks, often away from the fighting and in civilian populated areas, has caused ordinary Afghans to live in fear of the next explosion, severely curtailing their ability to carry out normal lives," UNAMA said.
More than half of the civilian causalities caused by IEDs were attributed to the Islamic State group, while the Taliban, Afghanistan's largest militant group, accounted for 40 per cent.
Many of the attacks "appeared to be directed specifically" at the minority Shiite community, UNAMA said.
Sunni extremists, like IS, consider Shiites apostates, and have carried out deadly attacks on the sect across the region, massacring hundreds.
Other targets included sports stadiums, mosques, health clinics and voter registration centres.
The last major suicide attack was on October 2 at an election rally in the eastern province of Nangarhar that killed 13 people and wounded more than 40. IS claimed responsibility.
UNAMA is expected to release its overall civilian casualty report for the January-September period later this month.
Its first-half report released in July showed the number of civilians killed in the conflict at a record high of 1,692.
Another 3,430 people were wounded.