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Explosive violence in October 2020

In October 2020, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,184 deaths and injuries from 258 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 68% (1,480) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 90% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 19% in other areas.

Improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 58% of civilian casualties in October 2020, while manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 42%. Of the main launch method types, ground-launched explosive weapons were responsible for 29% of civilian casualties, airstrikes for 6%, and IEDs for 58%. The remaining civilian casualties were caused by landmines, naval-launched weapons or weapons with an unclear launch method.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 18 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Afghanistan, Syria, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Yemen in terms of civilian casualties.

Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in October with 562 civilian casualties recorded from explosive violence. This marked a significant rise in civilian casualties compared to previous months. Large scale complex IED attacks in civilian areas occurred with frequency in October.

In Syria AOAV recorded 305 civilian casualties – double the number caused the previous month. Of these, 156 were caused by IEDs. One incident in the town of Al-Bab left almost 100 civilian casualties.

In Azerbaijan AOAV recorded 284 civilian casualties, as fighting continued in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Reporting on casualties has been sporadic and when casualties are reported they are often too unspecific to be recorded as part of AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor. This means the casualties from the violence in this region are likely to be higher than recorded.

In Pakistan, 137 of the 151 civilian casualties recorded were due to IED incidents. Most casualties occurred in just one incident where more than 110 casualties were caused by a blast in a Madressah during a Quran class.

All civilian casualties recorded in Yemen last month (56) were caused by the use of ground launched explosives by both Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels, notably in the regions of Hudaydah, Saada and Taiz.

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.