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Explosive violence in December 2019

In December 2019, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,058 deaths and injuries from 267 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 66% (1,366) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 92% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 11% in other areas.

Manufactured weapons accounted for 58% of civilian casualties in December 2019, while improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for 42%. Of the main launch method types, airstrikes were responsible for 30% of civilian casualties, ground-launched explosives for 17%, and IEDs for 42%. The remaining 11% of civilian casualties were caused by landmines and attacks where multiples launch methods were used or the launch method was unclear.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 23 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen in terms of civilian casualties.

Syria was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in December, with 617 civilian casualties from such violence. 74% of these casualties were due to explosive weapon use by state actors. Airstrikes accounted for 55% of civilian casualties, ground-launched explosives accounted for 16%, and IEDs for 12%. A further 17% were caused by landmines and explosive weapons with multiples or unclear launch methods.

Idlib was the worst impacted area in Syria last month. 73% of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons in Syria, occurred in Idlib.

Somalia was the second-worst impacted country from explosive weapons, with 276 civilian casualties from such violence last month. 83% of these casualties occurred in just one incident. On December 28th 2019, a suicide car bomb was detonated in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. The blast left at least 79 killed and 149 injured.

Afghanistan saw at least 200 civilian casualties from explosive violence in December – a similar level to the previous month. While Afghanistan remained among the five worst impacted countries in December, the level of civilian casualties reflected a continued decrease in explosive violence harm, compared to earlier in 2019. IEDs continued to be the main cause of civilian harm from explosive weapons, responsible for 84% of such casualties last month.

Libya saw at least 79 civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons last month – 63 occurred in Tripoli. All civilian casualties were caused by manufactured weapons. While in Yemen, there were at least 60 civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons.

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.