In February 2021, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 1,127 casualties from 199 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 47% (525) of the deaths and injuries recorded.
When explosive violence was used in populated areas 76% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 16% in other areas.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for 38% (202) of civilian casualties in February, with manufactured weapons accounting for 62% (323).
Of the manufactured launch methods, ground-launched explosives were responsible for 48% (250) of civilian casualties, mines for 12% (61), and air-launched for 3% (12).
At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 20 countries and territories in February. The five worst impacted countries in regard to civilian casualties were Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia.
Syria was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons during this month (according to civilian casualties) with 136 civilian casualties attributed to explosive violence – 33 deaths and 103 injuries. Of the 136 civilian casualties, 39% were caused by IEDs, and 39% were caused by ground-launched weapons. The three regions worst affected by explosive weapons in Syria in February – where almost 60% of casualties occurred – were Aleppo (39%), Hama (11%), and Hasakah (9%).
To note, AOAV recorded 388 casualties in Afghanistan, the most affected county in February, according to total casualties. 54% (209) of all casualties in the country were caused by IEDs – followed by air-launched munitions, accounting for 38% (146). Of the 209 casualties caused by IEDs in Afghanistan, 30% occurred in Kabul. Kabul has seen a dramatic increase of the use of sticky/magnetic IEDs on the cars of government officials and security personnel in the last 12 months.
In Nigeria, 97% (57) of civilian casualties were caused by ground-launched explosive munitions in a single event – a suspected Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
As with the general trend, Pakistan saw a fall in explosive violence in February. This being said, Baluchistan continued to see a high rate of explosive violence, especially regarding civilians. In the region, 42/43 of the casualties were civilian, making up 66% of the total Pakistani casualties.
In Somalia, almost 60% of the civilian casualties occurred in the capital, Mogadishu – all caused by explosions of IEDs. This highlights the political instability in the country and the rift between the government and insurgent groups.
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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