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Explosive Violence in July 2023

In July 2023, Action on Armed Violence recorded 2,694 deaths and injuries from 552 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 70% (1,886) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 93% (1,794) of the casualties were civilians, compared to 12% (92) in other areas.

Manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 77% (1,453) of civilian casualties, while improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 23% (433) of these civilian casualties in July 2023. Of the main launch-method types of manufactured explosive weapons, ground-launched explosive weapons accounted for 46% (871) of civilian casualties, air-launched weapons were responsible for 12% (219) of civilian casualties, and landmines were responsible for 1% (13) of civilian casualties.

At least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 28 countries and territories in July 2023. The five most affected countries and territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Ukraine (935 civilian casualties), Pakistan (232), Sudan (208), Myanmar (141), and Syria (127).

UKRAINE

In July 2023, there were 282 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Ukraine, 272 of which resulted in 935 civilian casualties, of whom 149 were killed and 786 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 64 children, 111 women, and 119 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 97% of all 966 casualties recorded in Ukraine in July, as there were also 31 reported armed-actor casualties, of whom 16 were killed and 15 injured.

The majority of civilian casualties, 96% (895), occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 47% (444) occurred in urban residential areas, 23% (216) across multiple urban areas, 13% (126) in villages, 4% (42) in schools, 2% (18) in commercial premises, 1% on public transport (14), in town centres (12), and in other populated areas (9) respectively, and <1% in humanitarian infrastructure (4), public buildings (3), roads (3), hospital (2), and entertainment venues (2) respectively.

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Ukraine were Donetsk (252 civilian casualties), Kherson (122), Zaporizhzhia (118), Dnipropetrovsk (106), Kharkiv (103), Sumy (27), Odessa (57), Lviv (52), Mykolaiv (29), Vinnytsia (5), Chernihiv (5), Kyiv (5), Crimea (3), and Cherkasy (2).

The vast majority of civilian casualties, 99.7% (932), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons. Specifically, Russian armed forces reportedly caused 90% (840) of civilian casualties, Ukraine’s armed forces 9% (87), and unknown state actors 1% (5). Actors of unknown name and status caused <1% (3) of civilian casualties.

The use of ground-launched explosive weapons was the cause of 57% (532) of civilian casualties in Ukraine in July, specifically non-specific shelling (353 civilian casualties), ground-launched missiles (60), ground-launched rockets (57), artillery shelling (49), mortar shelling (7), combined ground-launched weapons (3), grenades (2), and tank shells (1). Weapons of unclear launch method caused 28% (261) of civilian casualties, specifically missiles (242 civilian casualties), rockets (15), and combined explosive weapons (4). The use of air-launched weapons caused 11% (100) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (89 civilian casualties), air-launched missiles (9), and air-dropped bombs (2). Combined explosive weapons caused 3% (31) of civilian casualties. Mines caused 1% (6) of civilian casualties, specifically landmines (5 civilian casualties) and anti-personnel mines (1). Naval-launched weapons, specifically missiles, caused 1% (5) of civilian casualties.

The number of incidents and civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Ukraine in July 2023 increased compared to levels recorded in June, in which 260 incidents caused 809 civilian casualties, of whom 162 were killed and 647 injured. In May, 260 incidents caused 798 civilian casualties (141 killed and 657 injured). 

PAKISTAN

In July 2023, there were 18 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Pakistan, nine of which resulted in 232 civilian casualties, of whom 64 were killed and 168 injured. Civilian casualties include at least four children, two women, and one man. Civilians accounted for 84% of all 275 casualties recorded in Pakistan in July, as 43 armed actor casualties were also recorded, 25 of whom were killed and 18 injured. 

94% (219) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 83% (193) of civilian casualties occurred at public gatherings, 4% (10) at police stations, 2% in armed bases (5), on roads (4), and in urban residential areas (4) respectively, and 1% (3) across multiple urban areas. 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Pakistan were Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (224 civilian casualties), and Balochistan (8).

All civilian casualties were caused by non-state actors. Specifically, Islamic State’s affiliate in Pakistan caused 83% (193) of civilian casualties, unknown non-state actors caused 16% (36) of civilian casualties, and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan caused 1% (3).

IEDs caused 96% (223) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific IEDs (213 civilian casualties), car bombs (6), and roadside bombs (4). The use of ground-launched explosive weapons caused 4% (9) of civilian casualties, specifically ground-launched rockets (5 civilian casualties), and grenades (4).

The number of incidents and civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Pakistan in July 2023 increased compared to levels recorded in June, in which 16 incidents caused 39 civilian casualties, of whom 14 were killed and 25 injured. In May, 15 incidents were recorded, which caused 47 civilian casualties (six killed, 41 injured).

SUDAN

In July 2023, there were 14 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Sudan, which caused 208 civilian casualties, 165 of whom were killed and 43 injured. Civilian casualties included at least seven children, and four women. There were no armed actor casualties recorded in Sudan in July.

All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 64% (133) of civilian casualties occurred in urban residential areas, 18% (38) in markets, 14% (29) at public gatherings, and 4% (8) in hospitals.

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Sudan were Khartoum (185 civilian casualties), South Darfur (17), and North Kordofan (6). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 49% (101) were attributed to actors of unknown name and status. 23% (47) of civilian casualties were caused by state actors, specifically the Sudanese Armed Forces. Non-state actors, specifically the Rapid Support Forces, caused 21% (43) of civilian casualties. Combined state and non-state actors, specifically the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, caused 8% (17) of civilian casualties.

The use of ground-launched weapons was the cause of 46% (95) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (50 civilian casualties), ground-launched missiles (22), ground-launched rockets(17), and artillery shelling (6). Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 40% (83) of civilian casualties. Combined explosive weapons caused 14% (30) of civilian casualties.

The number of incidents of explosive weapon use in Sudan in July 2023 increased compared to levels recorded in June, when 10 incidents were recorded. However, more civilian casualties were recorded in June: 369 (103 killed, 266 injured). In May, seven incidents were recorded, which caused 192 civilian casualties (59 killed, 133 injured).

MYANMAR

In July 2023, there were 72 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Myanmar, 36 of which caused 141 civilian casualties, 51 of whom were killed and 90 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 21 children, 25 women, and 24 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 30% of the total 467 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 326 armed-actor casualties were also recorded, 245 of whom were killed and 81 injured.

96% (136) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 71%% (100) occurred in villages, 8% (11) in commercial premises, 6% in encampments (9) and markets (8) respectively, 2% in armed bases (3) and urban residential areas (3) respectively, and 1% (2) in schools. 

The states in which civilian casualties were reported in Myanmar were Sagaing (69 civilian casualties), Karen (37), Shan (20), Chin (6), Bago (5), Mon (2), and Magway (2). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 65% (91), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically the Myanmar military junta. Non-state actors caused 26% (36) of civilian casualties, specifically the People’s Defense Forces (22), unknown non-state actors (11), and the Hpa-an Guerilla Force (3). Actors of unknown name and status caused 10% (14) of civilian casualties.

Ground-launched weapons caused 57% (81) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shelling (61 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (14), and mortar shelling (6). The use of IEDs caused 29% (41) of civilian casualties, specifically mortars (22 civilian casualties), non-specific IEDs (16), and car bombs (3). Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 10% (14) of civilian casualties, and mines, specifically landmines, caused 3% (5) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Myanmar in July 2023 increased compared to June, when 75 incidents caused 139 reported civilian casualties (59 killed, 80 injured). In May, 69 incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, which resulted in 102 reported civilian casualties (29 killed, 73 injured).

SYRIA

In July 2023, there were 70 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Syria, 30 of which resulted in 127 civilian casualties, 28 of whom were killed and 99 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 29 children, eight women, and 18 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 47% of all 268 casualties in Syria in July, as 141 armed actors casualties were also recorded, 66 of whom were killed and 75 injured.

94% (119) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 39% (49) of civilian casualties occurred in a hotel, 23% (29) in urban residential areas, 12% in villages (15) and commercial premises (15) respectively, 5% (6) in markets, 3% (4) in schools, and 1% (1) in places of worship.

The regions in which civilian casualties were recorded in Syria in July are Aleppo (53 civilian casualties), Rif Dimashq (51), Idlib (9), Hama (4), Daraa (4), Hasakah (3), Raqqa (2), and Suweida (1).

63% (80) of civilian casualties were caused by non-state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Islamic State (49 civilian casualties), unknown non-state actors (23), al-Fath al-Mubin (7), and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (1). State actors’ use of explosive weapons caused 35% (44) of civilian casualties, specifically Syria (33 civilian casualties), Turkey (10), and the USA (1). Combined state and non-state actors, specifically Syria and allied Kurdish forces, caused 2% (3) of civilian casualties.

The use of IEDs caused 53% (67) of civilian casualties, specifically car bombs (64 civilian casualties), non-specific IEDs (2), and roadside bombs (1). Ground-launched weapons caused 43% (54) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shelling (22 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (18), mortar shelling (8), grenades (5), and combined ground-launched explosive weapons (1). Combined explosive weapons caused 2% (3) of civilian casualties, and air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 2% (2) of civilian casualties. Weapons of unclear launch method, specifically missiles, caused 1% (1) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Syria in July 2023 decreased compared to June, when 65 incidents caused 152 reported civilian casualties, 32 of whom were killed and 120 injured. In May, 46 incidents were recorded, which resulted in 49 civilian casualties (22 killed, 27 injured).



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 effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.