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Explosive violence in March 2018

In March 2018, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 3,446 deaths and injuries from 367 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 77% (2,659) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 93% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 21% in other areas.

In total, 50% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by airstrikes, whilst 23% were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and 15% by ground-launched explosives. An additional 11% of civilian casualties were caused by incidents which used multiple types of explosive weapons, typically in attacks on Eastern Ghouta.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 28 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia according to civilian casualties.

In Syria, most civilian casualties were recorded in Eastern Ghouta – 67%. Further, most civilian casualties from explosive violence across the country (68%) were caused by airstrikes. On March 19th, airstrikes hit an underground school in Arbin, Eastern Ghouta, leaving over 60 dead and injured – including 15 children killed.

Whereas in Afghanistan, 89% of reported civilian casualties were caused by IEDs. AOAV recorded 11 suicide attacks in Afghanistan, causing 266 casualties – of these 93% were civilians. A suicide bomb attack targeted a shrine in Kabul where crowds gathered to celebrate the New Year festival, leaving over 80 dead and injured on March 21st. And, in Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s regional capital, a suicide car bomb left over 50 dead and injured as they left a sports stadium on March 26th.

Iraq similarly saw 88% of civilian casualties from explosive violence occur due to IEDs. However, the downward trend in such violence continued. In Somalia and Nigeria too, the majority of explosive violence harm was caused by IEDs.

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.