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IraqIslamic State

Islamic State use ambulances to carry out suicide bomb attacks in Iraq

is-attackOn Sunday, November 9th 2016, IS carried out suicide attacks in Tikrit and Samarra, killing at least 25 and wounding over 100. In Samarra, 11 Shia pilgrims were killed as suicide bombers targeted a crowd gathered at a religious shrine – over 100 were injured. In Tikrit, a suicide bomber detonated their explosives at the entrance to the city Sunday morning during rush hour – killing 13.

Both attacks were carried out using explosive-laden ambulances – a modification to the lethal truck bombs often used by IS. The use of ambulances has been internationally condemned as their use will make it more difficult for such vehicles to respond to emergencies as they are now under suspicion.

The attacks are thought to be a response to the groups loss of ground in Mosul. Other smaller attacks took place in Baghdad, killing at least 10 and wounding 21. It is suspected that these were carried out by IS as well.

On July 3rd 2016, a lorry packed with explosives was used in one of the deadliest attacks Iraq has seen, when it an IS suicide bomber detonated in the busy commercial area of the predominantly Shia district of Karrada, killing 324.

Shiite populations are often a target of ISIS attacks. Some of ISIS’s recent attacks targeting Shiites include: 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’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.

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.

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.