Explosive violence by Islamic StateExplosive violence in Iraq

Suicide bomber targets mourners in Baghdad, Iraq

iraq-shiaOn Saturday, October 17th 2016, a suicide bomber targeted a funeral gathering in northern Baghdad, Iraq. The attack killed at least 35 and wounded 63.

The bomber was said to have entered the funeral tent as lunch was served.

ISIS, in an online statement, claimed responsibility for the attack, targeting the Shia mourners.

Other attacks throughout the day on Saturday, saw 12 killed in two other incidents in Baghdad by armed men.

Eight were killed and 11 wounded in Tikrit as suicide bombers detonated their explosives at a federal police position.

In the Ishaqi area, south if Samarra, two armed men killed the wife and three children of the commander of local tribal forces.

These attacks, saw a total of at least 59 killed. The day before Saturday’s incidents, ISIS executed 58 people in Mosul suspected of taking part in a plot to help deliver Mosul to Iraqi forces. After uncovering the plot, the suspects were drowned.

AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2015 found that last year explosive violence across Iraq left more than 5,000 civilians dead or injured. For the last five years, Iraq has remained consistently one of the five worst countries affected by explosive violence in the world – often taking first or second place.

The numbers of civilians killed or injured by explosive violence in Iraq last year meant that this beleaguered country was the third worst affected country by explosive violence. In 2015, only Syria and Yemen saw more civilians killed or injured by explosive violence.

In 2015, 89% of the civilians killed or injured from explosive weapons were when that violence took place in populated areas, such as markets, commercial areas, residential areas, or places of worship. Of the civilians killed or injured in explosive violence last year where the status of the perpetrators were identified, 76% was perpetrated by non-state actors, whilst the remainder (24%) was perpetrated by state actors.

Given that IEDs are almost explicitly used by non-state actors, groups such as ISIS pose a significant threat to civilians, particularly given the lethality of IEDs like suicide bombs and car bombs. IEDs have been the weapons used in almost all ISIS attacks in Iraq. Last year, IEDs were responsible for 4,078 civilian deaths and injuries – 80% of the total civilian deaths and injuries in 2015. It is evident that IEDs, are extremely lethal and are seeing wider and wider use.

Shiite populations are often a target of ISIS attacks. Some of ISIS’s recent attacks targeting Shiites include: the truck bombing in a commercial district in Baghdad that caused over 300 deaths and injuries in the most lethal attack in Iraq since 2007, the suicide bombing at a football stadium killing at least 41 and injuring 105, suicide attacks on the Shiite majority city of Hillah, killing at least 47, and a suicide bombing  at a market targeting Shiite civilians, which killed at least 67 and injured more than 150.

AOAV records casualties (i.e. people killed and injured) from explosive violence around the world as reported in English-language news sources. The data reflected here cannot capture the full scale of the civilian suffering in Iraq, but is indicative of the patterns of harm that exist when explosive weapons are used in populated areas.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and calls upon all groups to reject the deliberate targeting of civilians. States must urgently address the threat of suicide bombings and other forms of IED attacks. Reports by AOAV show the increasing use and harm of suicide bombings around the world.  It is a growing reality that highlights the need for urgent preventative measures that States should establish – such as stockpile controls – to limit groups’ ability to produce these and other IEDs.