Every day civilians are killed and injured by explosive weapons, either the rockets and air-dropped bombs of a conventional military, or an improvised explosive device (IED).
Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) records the incidents of explosive violence as they happen around the world. Using English-language media sources, AOAV collects data on attacks, including on the number of casualties and the weapon type used. This data is not intended as a comprehensive record of every explosion or casualty, but to serve as an indicator of the scale and pattern of harm that these weapons cause.
In a new weekly series, AOAV issues an alert for three countries where the recent use of explosive weapons presents a new threat to civilians.
Egypt: Cairo comes under attack
At least six people were killed and more than 70 injured in a spate of bombings in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Friday 24 January. Militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The first and most powerful blast was a truck bomb which killed four policemen and injured at least 76 people outside Cairo’s security headquarters at dawn. The Interior Ministry claimed that a suicide bomber was involved. The blast severely damaged several stories of the security building itself, and also caused damage to the facade and rare exhibits of the nearby Museum of Islamic Art. Additionally, the explosion created a truck-sized crater so deep that an underground water pipe was burst open.
The same day saw two other fatal explosions in Cairo. The second killed a security officer and injured 11 soldiers outside a metro station in the Dokki neighbourhood, and the third killed one civilian and injured seven others outside a cinema in the Haram district.
The attacks hit the city on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, and are the latest evidence of a dramatic escalation in explosive violence in Egypt. AOAV has warned of the steady increase in both the frequency and severity of explosive weapon use in the country.
Iraq: Air strikes in Anbar province
Iraq’s Anbar province continues to be blighted by explosive violence from both government forces and militant groups. Air strikes and artillery fire in the city of Fallujah on 26 January killed at least seven people and injured 42.
The day before, hospitals in Fallujah reported that eight people had been killed and a further 16 wounded following artillery shelling on several neighbourhoods.
Additionally, a civilian was killed and six others injured in artillery and mortar shelling in the neighbouring city of Ramadi in attacks which also destroyed several houses in the city.
Despite Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki’s pledge to avoid using explosive weapons in populated areas for fear of causing civilian casualties, the Iraqi government has begun an offensive in Anbar province in a bid to dislodge the militants who currently hold parts of the area under their control.
The UN refugee agency has said that 140,000 people have fled Fallujah and Ramadi since December in an attempt to escape the escalating violence, triggering the worst displacement crisis in the country since 2008.
The attacks in Anbar province are just one aspect of the continuing high levels of explosive violence afflicting Iraq. Last week AOAV reported on a wave of IED attacks that killed at least 75 people.
Syria: Violence continues amid peace talks
Despite the long-awaited meetings between Syria’s conflict parties finally taking place this week in Switzerland, there is no respite from the explosive violence used by both the government forces and opposition groups across the country.
On 25 January, government forces bombed populated areas throughout Rif Dimashq and Aleppo provinces. In rebel-held Aleppo, airstrikes bombarded at least four areas of the city. 18 people, including six children, were killed in a strike targeting Aleppo’s Salihin district. A further 10 people were killed on 21 January, when an airstrike hit a bus station.
Meanwhile, a rebel-fired mortar round wounded seven people in the central Damascus district of Qassaa on 26 January. At least two other areas of the capital were also gripped by violent clashes between rebels and government troops according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.
Civilians continue to be killed by explosive violence in Syria on a daily basis, despite ongoing talks. AOAV has recorded 184 civilian deaths from explosive weapons so far this year in Syria; a fraction of the likely full story.
A commitment to stop the use of heavy weapons in population centres in Syria was one of six points laid out in an early UN proposal to end violence. AOAV calls upon all parties to take this rare opportunity to commit to end the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas in Syria. These latest incidents in Syria show just urgent securing such a commitment is.
To read more about AOAV’s work on explosive weapons:
Did you find this story interesting? Please support AOAV's work and donate.