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Explosive violence in December 2018

In December 2018, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 1,475 deaths and injuries from 183 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 53% (783) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 85% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 14% in other areas.

In total, 50% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), whilst 11% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 30% by air-launched explosives – the remaining were from landmines, attacks using multiple explosive weapons, or unclear launch methods.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 27 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran and Colombia, in terms of civilian casualties.

In Syria, US-led coalition airstrikes continued to be the leading cause of civilian harm from explosive weapons. Of the civilians killed and injured in Syria last month, 65% were caused by airstrikes from the US-led coalition on ISIS-held areas in Deir Ezzor.

Surprisingly, in Afghanistan too, the main cause of civilian casualties from explosive violence last month was been airstrikes – responsible for 38% of civilian deaths and injuries. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were responsible for 32% and attacks using multiple forms of explosive weapons were responsible for 26% – the remaining 4% was caused by ground-launched explosives.

Whilst in Somalia, all civilian casualties were caused by IEDs, with the majority caused in just one incident on December 22nd 2018, when two bombings near the presidential palace in Mogadishu left 30 dead and another 54 wounded.

Similarly, in Iran all the civilian casualties were caused by one IED incident, a suicide car bombing near a police headquarters in Chabahar. Whilst in Colombia, the civilian casualties were caused by two grenade attacks; one at a nightclub in Montelibano on December 16th and the other at a nightclub in El Bagre on December 23rd.

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.