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Explosive violence in July 2017

In July 2017, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 3,314 deaths and injuries from explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 68% (2,269) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 25 countries last month. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, according to civilian casualties.

Despite Iraq retaining its usual place amongst the worst impacted countries, the country continued to see surprisingly low levels of civilian harm.

In Iraq, AOAV recorded 225 civilian casualties in July. Whilst high, this is a significant decrease from the levels recorded in the latter months of last year, where well over 1,000 civilian casualties were recorded each month. On average last year, Iraq recorded 530 civilian casualties from explosive violence per month.

77% of all civilian casualties in Iraq last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Of those killed by IEDs, 66% were caused by just 6 suicide attacks.

In Syria, on the other hand, 70% of civilian casualties from explosive violence were caused by airstrikes. This means that state actors continued to be responsible for most civilian casualties from explosive violence in Syria last month. Of these, at least 23% were reported to have been perpetrated by the US-led coalition.

Most civilian casualties occurred in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.

In total, 45% of all casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by airstrikes, whilst 32% were caused by IEDs – 22% were caused by suicide attacks alone.

Pakistan’s position as the third-most impacted country was caused predominantly by IEDs. Just one incident, when a suicide bomber on a motorbike detonated their explosives next to a market in Lahore, was responsible for 43% of all civilian casualties. The attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

In Afghanistan, 67% of the civilian casualties were caused by IEDs – with just over 50% of all civilians casualties caused by one suicide attack in Kabul.

All civilian casualties from explosive violence in Nigeria last month were caused by suicide attacks in Borno state. While some attacks used multiple suicide bombers, the majority of the attackers were women or children – a tactic increasingly being used by Boko Haram.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 85% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 18% in other areas.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area affects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.

For more on the increasing harm from airstrikes, please see here.