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Explosive violence in August 2019

In August 2019, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 3,147 deaths and injuries from 342 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 64% (2,029) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 87% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 17% in other areas.

In total, 51% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), whilst 9% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 39% by airstrikes – a further 1% of civilian casualties were caused by landmines.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 24 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Pakistan in terms of civilian casualties.

Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in August; with 734 civilian casualties from such violence last month. Violence appears to be worsening in Afghanistan, with the capital particularly impacted. Over 57% of civilian casualties occurred in Kabul.

92% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan were caused by IEDs – 56% were from suicide attacks alone. On August 7th 2019, a suicide car bomb in Kabul killed at least 14 and injured 145. Ten days later, on August 17th 2019, a suicide bomber targeted a wedding in Kabul. The bombing left over 240 dead and wounded.

The attacks seen in 2019 are set to make this year the worst recorded in Afghanistan since AOAV began the monitor in 2010. Between January and August 2019, AOAV has recorded 3,068 civilian casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan. No previous year has seen more civilian casualties in the same period.

While Syria saw a drop in civilian casualties from explosive weapons last month, the country remained highly impacted – the second most affected across the globe. AOAV recorded 779 casualties from the use of explosive weapons in Syria, of which three-quarters (583) were civilian.

Almost four in every five civilian casualties (or 79%) from explosive violence in Syria last month, were caused by airstrikes. 10% were caused by ground-launched weapons and 11% were from IED blasts.

On August 16th 2019, Russian airstrikes on a gathering of internally displaced persons (IDPs) near Hass town in Syria’s Idlib province left at least 40 killed and injured. Then, on August 28th 2019, regime airstrikes hit residential neighbourhoods in Maarat Al-Nu’man city in Syria’s Idlib province, with over 40 killed and injured.

Similar to Syria, in Yemen 70% of civilian casualties from explosive violence were caused by airstrikes; 14% were from ground-launched weapons and 16% from IEDs.

In Libya, three-quarters of the civilian casualties were caused by just one incident, when, on August 4th 2019, an airstrike by the eastern Libyan forces on the town of Murzuq left over 90 killed and injured. In Pakistan, IEDs caused 75% (81) of all civilian casualties from explosive violence in the country (108). A further 14 civilian casualties were caused by Indian cross-border shelling and 13 from landmines.

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.