In August 2021, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,565 deaths and injuries from 202 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 37% (942) of the deaths and injuries recorded.
When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 84% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 2% in other areas.
Improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 62% of these civilian casualties in August 2021, while manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 38%. Of the main launch method types, ground-launched explosive weapons were responsible for 34% of civilian casualties, air-launched explosive weapons for 3%, and IEDs for 62%. The remaining 1% of civilian casualties were caused by landmines.
At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 20 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, India and Iraq – in terms of civilian casualties.
Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in August, with 451 civilian casualties recorded from explosive violence, accounting for 33% of the total casualties (1,383) from explosive weapon use. 192 of the civilian casualties were killed and 11 were reportedly children.14 of the total 26 incidents of explosive weapon use in the country took place in populated areas, and all of the 451 civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. These populated areas include locations such as transport related infrastructure and in urban residential areas. August saw a significant increase in the number of recorded casualties of explosive violence from July, as Taliban offensives on provincial capitals intensified and culminated in their takeover of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, and the nation as a whole. The number of civilian casualties increased by 71% when compared to July. The number of armed-actor casualties increased dramatically from 268 in July to 932 in August. 87% of the armed-actor casualties were fatalities. The vast majority of recorded armed-actor casualties were Taliban members.
In Syria, there were 76 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in August, and 219 civilian casualties. 73 of these casualties were killed and 146 were injured. 23 were women and 52 casualties were reportedly children. Civilians accounted for 57% of the total casualties (381) in August 2021. Ground launched weapons, such as artillery shelling, mortars, rockets, and grenades, accounted for the majority of incidents and civilian casualties, at 53 of the 76 incidents and 87% (191) of the civilian casualties. The number of civilian casualties decreased slightly, from 235 in July to 219 in August, while armed-actor casualties more than doubled, from 75 in July to 162 in August. The proportion of civilian casualties to total casualties from July to August has decreased, from 75% in July to 57% in August.
In Pakistan, there were 137 casualties from explosive weapon use in August 2021, of which 78% (107) were civilians. This amounts to over five-times the number of civilian casualties recorded in July 2021. 20 civilians were killed, 87 were injured, and 9 of the casualties were reportedly children. All 107 civilian casualties took place in populated areas. 70% (75) of civilians were casualties of IEDs, while 30% (32) were casualties of ground launched weapons, specifically grenades. The proportion of civilian casualties relative to total casualties has increased from 41% in July to 78% in August.
In India, there were 15 incidents of explosive violence in August, causing 54 total casualties, of which 47 were civilians. Five of the civilian casualties were killed and 42 were injured. 44 of the 47 civilian casualties took place in populated areas. 30 civilian casualties were caused by ground launched weapons, all grenades, and 17 were caused by IEDs. There were seven armed actor casualties in August, the same number recorded in July 2021. The number of civilian casualties in August was eight-times higher than in July and incidents were recorded in three additional provinces.
In Iraq, there were 28 incidents of explosive weapons use in August 2021, and 44 civilian casualties, 16 of whom were killed and 28 injured. There were 52 armed-actor casualties, 26 injured and 26 killed. 73% (32) of the 44 civilian casualties were caused by IEDs and roadside bombs. Air-launched weapons, specifically airstrikes, killed five civilians and injured six others, while one civilian was reportedly injured by ground launched weapons, specifically a missile. Non-state actors were recorded as the perpetrator of 20 incidents of explosive weapon use and 30 civilian casualties, including ISIS and the PKK, while state actors, namely Iraq and Turkey, were reportedly responsible for seven incidents and 11 civilian casualties. 12 civilian deaths and injuries took place on roads, eight at a hospital, and seven at a camp for displaced people. The province with the highest number of incidents and civilian casualties was Nineveh in northern Iraq, followed by Duhok, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. There were nine more incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in August than in July, but significantly fewer civilian casualties, with no incidents recording more than eight civilian casualties. The number of armed actor casualties increased, from 29 in July to 52 in August, with over six-times the number of fatalities in August (26).
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.
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