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Explosive violence in March 2019

In March 2019, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,132 deaths and injuries from 263 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 72% (1,529) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 93% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 16% in other areas.

In total, 38% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), whilst 23% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 34% by air-launched explosives – the remaining 5% were from landmines.

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, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and India in terms of civilian casualties.

Syria was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in March; with 671 civilian casualties from such violence last month. In the last two months the civilian casualty toll has been rising. After seeing a 57% increase between January and February, last month’s rise amounted to 66% compared to February. 57% of civilian casualties were caused by airstrikes, 23% by IEDs, 11% by ground-launched weapons, and the remainder from mines. On March 13th 2019, Russian airstrikes on residential areas in Idlib city left 10 civilians dead and 45 injured.

Afghanistan, on the other hand, saw IEDs cause the most civilian casualties from explosive violence (46%), with a further 43% from ground-launched explosives and 12% from airstrikes. Although 30% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan were caused by just one attack. On March 7th 2019, mortars were fired on a political gathering in Kabul, Afghanistan, in an attack that left 11 dead and 95 wounded.

Somalia too saw most (97%) civilian casualties from IEDs. In total, AOAV recorded 167 casualties from explosive violence, including 147 civilians. The 4 civilian casualties not caused by IEDs were due to a US airstrike in Lower Shabelle targeting Al Shabaab fighters.

In Yemen, where 107 civilian casualties from explosive weapons were recorded, airstrikes caused 70% of civilian deaths and injuries, whilst 28% were caused by ground-launched weapons and 2% by landmines. One airstrike, on March 11th 2019, by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s Hajjah province left 22 civilians dead and 30 injured.

India saw 76 casualties from explosive violence, including 58 civilian casualties. 78% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 22% from 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.