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Explosive violence in February 2019

In February 2019, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 1,748 deaths and injuries from 206 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 55% (962) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 89% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 16% in other areas.

In total, 51% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), whilst 28% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 18% by air-launched explosives – the remaining 3% were from landmines.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 22 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq in terms of civilian casualties.

Syria was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in February; with 404 civilian casualties from such violence last month. Whilst this is significantly lower than the monthly tolls seen throughout 2017 and 2018, it is a 57% increase compared to the previous month. 44% of civilian casualties were caused by ground-launched weapons, 10% by airstrikes, 41%% by IEDs, and the remainder from mines (5%). On February 16th 2019, regime shelling on Khan Shaykhun and Marrat al-Nu’man in the Syrian province of Idlib, left over 44 civilians dead and injured, as the attacks hit populated areas across the towns. On February 18th 2019, two bombs were detonated in the Qusour neighbourhood of Idlib city, Syria, killing and injuring more than 90.

Comparatively, in Somalia, all 140 civilian casualties were caused by IEDs; with 85% from suicide attacks. On February 28th 2019, a suicide car bomb detonated at a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, leaving over 100 dead and wounded. Similarly, Iraq saw 54 civilian casualties from explosive weapons last month, of which 89% were caused by IEDs.

In Yemen, where 94 civilian casualties from explosive weapons were recorded, airstrikes caused 69% of civilian deaths and injuries, whilst 31% were caused by ground-launched weapons. Afghanistan too, saw airstrikes causing the most civilian casualties from explosive violence (38%), with a further 27% from ground-launched explosives and 35% from IEDs. Typically, Afghanistan sees most their civilian casualties from IEDs, however, there was an increase in civilian casualties from airstrikes recorded over 2018.

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.