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Explosive violence in August 2018

In August 2018, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,070 deaths and injuries from 264 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 61% (1,269) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 90% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 20% in other areas.

In total, 48% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), whilst 10% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 40% by air-launched explosives – the remainder (2%) were caused by attacks using naval-launched explosives or landmines.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 31 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and the Philippines according to civilian casualties.

The decrease in casualties in August likely reflects the fall in recorded civilian harm in Syria, where despite consecutive months of Syria remaining the worst impacted country according to casualties from explosive violence, the number of casualties continued to fall, leaving it below both Yemen and Afghanistan last month. Just 147 civilian casualties  from explosive weapons were reported in Syria according to English-language news sources, last month. However, this could also reflect a news fatigue in the coverage of violence in Syria.

Yemen was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in August, with the majority of civilian casualties (94%) caused by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. On August 2nd, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit a busy fish market and outside the entrance to al-Thawra hospital in Hudaydah, leaving over 170 casualties. A week later, on August 9th, 130 were killed and injured when a Saudi-led coalition strike hit a school bus in Dahyan city, in Saada province – most those killed were children on a field trip.

In Afghanistan, 92% of reported civilian casualties were caused by IEDs – in total 78% were caused by suicide attacks alone. On August 3rd, an ISIS suicide attack on a Shia mosque in Gardez city, in Afghanistan’s Paktia province, left at least 48 dead and over 70 injured. And, on August 15th, a suicide bomber targeted a tuition centre as teaching was under way in Kabul, leaving over 100 dead and injured – mostly students. Such attacks reflect the continuing rise in violence in Afghanistan that AOAV reported in July.

In Iraq, despite being amongst the five worst impacted countries, civilian casualties from explosive violence continued to decrease last month.

The Philippines saw 39 of their 41 civilian casualties from explosive violence caused by one incident in Isulan, in Sultan Kudarat, where 2 were killed and 36 injured when a suspected ISIS-inspired individual detonated a homemade bomb in a night market.

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.