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FILE PHOTO: Afghan officials inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack outside a Shi'ite mosque in Herat, Afghanistan March 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Shoib


KABUL (Reuters) - The number of civilians killed and wounded by suicide bombings and "complex attacks" in Afghanistan has more than doubled so far this year, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Suicide bombings and attacks by militant groups killed or maimed 751 people from January through March, one-third of total civilian cases, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said. Attacks are considered "complex" when the assailants employ a variety of means.

One suicide attack in January carried out in vehicles disguised as ambulances, killed more than 100 people in Kabul.

Overall, UNAMA recorded 763 civilian deaths and 1,495 injuries in the first quarter, similar to the same period in each of the past two years. Fighting on the ground was the second-leading cause of civilian deaths and injuries.

Cases attributed to anti-government forces, mainly the Taliban and Islamic State, increased 6 percent year-on-year to 1,500. Civilian deaths and injuries caused by pro-government forces dropped 13 percent to 407, continuing a trend from 2017.

The United Nations is investigating an Afghan Air Force attack on the Taliban last week that killed civilians attending a religious ceremony.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Kabul; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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