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.
Syria: Barrel bomb barrage in Aleppo
Syrian government forces have been bombarding residential areas in the northern city of Aleppo, killing more than 100 civilians in just two days.
The deadliest attacks took place on 1 February. Eight separate bombs fell across the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood, killing 34 people including ten militants and six children. The neighbouring district of Ansari saw 17 separate air strikes.
“The humanitarian situation is very bad, there is a huge number of wounded people,” said one medic working in a field hospital in the battered city. “I am so nervous because my staff inside (have) become so confused, I have to calm them, I don’t know what I will have to do for tomorrow.”
The attacks were said to be carried out using ‘barrel bombs’. These are improvised air-dropped weapons that contain a mix of explosives, fuel, and chunks of jagged metal. The first time AOAV recorded casualties from the use of these bombs in Syria was in September 2012.
In December 2013, AOAV recorded 428 civilian deaths and injuries from a similar campaign of barrel bomb attacks in Aleppo.
Lebanon: Border under attack
On Saturday 1 February a suicide bomber killed himself and three civilians in the town of Hermel in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
Fifteen people were also injured in the explosion, which took place near a school run by a local charity for disadvantaged and orphaned children.
Hermel lies just inside the Syrian border, and is considered a Hezbollah stronghold. The bombing was claimed by the al-Nusra Front.
This is the second suicide attack carried out by the al-Nusra Front in Hermel in 2014. Five civilians died and 42 more suffered injuries in a bombing outside a local government building on 16 January.
Lebanon’s border with Syria has come under attack from explosive weapons. On 31 January more than 50 rockets and artillery shells thundered into border villages, killing a Syrian refugee.
Saturday’s bombing was condemned by the UN Security Council and by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called the attack “unacceptable and indiscriminate.”
Pakistan: Grenades and IEDs in Karachi
AOAV has recorded 39 casualties from four separate incidents of explosive violence in the city of Karachi this week.
On 29 January at least 20 civilians were injured when four grenades were thrown into a crowded neighbourhood, targeting a local politician from the Awami National Party (ANP).
On the same day a suicide bomber killed three security officials when he detonated his explosives outside a paramilitary headquarters. The headquarters were located near a school, but no civilians were reported among the casualties in this attack.
This is the first suicide attack that AOAV has recorded in Karachi since March 2013, when 48 people were killed outside a Shiite mosque.
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