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Explosive violence in September 2019

In September 2019, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,336 deaths and injuries from 304 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 66% (1,553) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 93% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 11% in other areas.

In total, 59% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), whilst 14% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 26% by airstrikes – a further 1% of civilian casualties were caused by landmines and naval-launched explosive weapons.

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

Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in September; with 800 civilian casualties from such violence last month. While 70% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan were caused by IEDs last month, 19% were caused by airstrikes and 11% by ground-launched explosives.

AOAV recorded six high civilian casualty incidents (more than 40 dead and injured) of explosive violence by the Taliban. Five were suicide attacks and one was a mortar shelling. The worst of these incidents occurred on September 2nd 2019, when a suicide car bomb hit a residential area near Green Village, a large compound housing aid agencies and international organisations, in central Kabul. The attack left at least 135 civilians dead and injured.

AOAV also recorded two US airstrikes which resulted in high levels of civilian casualties. Including one on September 18th 2019, when a US drone strike hit farmers and labourers who had just finished collecting pine nuts in Wazir Tangi in Nangarhar province. In total, the airstrike left at least 70 civilians killed and injured.

The attacks in Afghanistan sees 2019 continue to be the worst year for civilian casualties from explosive violence in the country since AOAV began recording in 2010. In total, AOAV has recorded 3,883 civilian casualties from explosive weapons in Afghanistan between January and September 2019.

In Yemen, almost three-quarters (74%) of the civilian casualties from explosive violence were caused by air-launched explosives; 14% were caused by ground-launched explosives and 12% by IEDs. Most civilian casualties occurred on September 1st 2019, when an airstrike hit a detention facility in Dhamar in western Yemen, leaving at least 135 killed.

Syria continued to witness a fall in casualties from explosive weapons last month. AOAV recorded 211 casualties from the use of explosive weapons in Syria, of which 68% (144) were civilian. IEDs accounted for the majority of civilian harm (70%) with a decline in significant decline in reported civilian casualties from airstrikes.

Somalia too saw the majority of their civilian casualties from explosive weapons caused by IEDs, with 49 of the 67 civilian casualties caused by such explosives. While in Libya, it was manufactured explosive weapons that accounted for all reported civilian casualties, with 31 from airstrikes and 21 from ground-launched explosives.

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.