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Explosive Violence in June 2023

In June 2023, Action on Armed Violence recorded 2,671 deaths and injuries from 537 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 67% (1,798) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 92% (1,706) of the casualties were civilians, compared to 11% (92) in other areas.

Manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 85% (1,529) of civilian casualties, while improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 10% (188) of these civilian casualties in June 2023. Of the main launch-method types of manufactured explosive weapons, ground-launched explosive weapons accounted for 60% (1,079) of civilian casualties, air-launched weapons were responsible for 18% (329) of civilian casualties, and landmines were responsible for 2% (27) of civilian casualties.

At least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 23 countries and territories in June 2023. The five most affected countries and territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Ukraine (809 civilian casualties), Sudan (369), Syria (152), Myanmar (139), and Somalia (63).

UKRAINE

In June 2023, there were 260 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Ukraine, 247 of which resulted in 809 civilian casualties, of whom 162 were killed and 647 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 52 children, 91 women, and 106 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 86% of all 942 casualties recorded in Ukraine in June, as there were also 133 reported armed-actor casualties, of whom 113 were killed and 20 injured.

The majority of civilian casualties, 96% (777), occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 46% (376) occurred in urban residential areas, 21% (172) across multiple urban areas, 13% (102) in villages, 9% (73) in entertainment venues, 2% (15) in other populated areas, 1% in schools (10), humanitarian infrastructure (9), roads (6), and hospitals (5) respectively, and <1% on public transport (3), town centres (2), places of worship (2), and commercial premises (2) respectively.

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Ukraine were Donetsk (243 civilian casualties), Kherson (204), Dnipropetrovsk (99), Zaporizhzhia (73), Kharkiv (53), Odesa (48), Kyiv (41), Sumy (33), Cherkasy (8), Zhytomyr (4), Chernihiv (1), Poltava (1), Luhansk (1).

The vast majority of civilian casualties, 99.5% (805), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons. Specifically, Russian armed forces reportedly caused 93% (755) of civilian casualties, Ukraine’s armed forces 5% (41), and unknown state actors 1% (9). Actors of unknown name and status caused <1% (4) of civilian casualties.

The use of ground-launched explosive weapons was the cause of 61% (496) of civilian casualties in Ukraine in June, specifically non-specific shelling (262 civilian casualties), artillery shelling (89), missiles (78), rockets (41), mortars (15), combined ground-launched explosive weapons (9), and tank shelling (2). Air-launched explosive weapons caused 18% (143) of civilian casualties, specifically air-strikes (63 civilian casualties), combined air-launched weapons (52), missiles (25), rockets (2), and air-dropped bombs (1). Weapons of unclear launch method, specifically missiles, caused 11% (93) of civilian casualties. Combined explosive weapons caused 7% (60) of explosive weapons. Mines caused 2% (13) of civilian casualties, specifically landmines (8 civilian casualties), and anti-personnel mines (5). IEDs caused <1% (4) of civilian casualties, specifically car bombs (3) and non-specific IEDs (1).

The number of incidents and civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Ukraine in June 2023 increased compared to levels recorded in May, in which 260 incidents caused 798 civilian casualties, of whom 141 were killed and 657 injured. In April, 204 incidents caused 586 civilian casualties (160 killed and 426 injured). 

SUDAN

In June 2023, there were 10 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Sudan, which resulted in 369 civilian casualties, of whom 103 were killed and 266 injured. Civilian casualties include at least 5 children, one woman, and two men. Civilians accounted for 99% of all 371 casualties recorded in Sudan in June, as two armed actors were also injured. 

All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 63% (231) occurred in police stations, 27% (99) in urban residential areas, 5% (18) in markets, and 3% in encampments (11) and schools (10) respectively. 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Sudan were Khartoum (278 civilian casualties), West Darfur (70), South Darfur (12), North Darfur (6), and Darfur (3).

The majority of civilian casualties, 64% (237), were caused by combined state and non-state actors, specifically the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. Non-state actors, specifically the Rapid Support Forces, caused 19% (70) of civilian casualties. Actors of unknown name and status caused 11% (40) of civilian casualties. State actors, specifically the Sudanese Armed Forces, caused 6% (22) of civilian casualties.

Ground-launched weapons caused 87% (322) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (256 civilian casualties), rocket-propelled grenades (54), and artillery shells (12). Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 13% (47) of civilian casualties. 

The number of incidents and civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Sudan in June 2023 increased compared to levels recorded in May, in which seven incidents caused 192 civilian casualties, of whom 59 were killed and 133 injured. In April, 20 incidents were recorded, which caused 210 civilian casualties (49 killed, 161 injured).

SYRIA

In June 2023, there were 65 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Syria, 33 of which caused 152 civilian casualties, 32 of whom were killed and 120 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 22 children, 12 women, and 14 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 51% of the total 299 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 147 armed actor casualties were also recorded, 99 of whom were killed and 48 injured.

94% (143) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 51% (78) occurred in markets, 21% (32) in urban residential areas, 13% (19) in villages, 3% in commercial premises (5) and hospitals (4) respectively, 1% in public gatherings (2) and agricultural land (2) respectively, and 1% (1) in armed bases. 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Syria were Idlib (92 civilian casualties), Aleppo (23), Hama (11), Deir Ezzor (6), Daraa (5), Homs (4), Hasakah (4), Damascus (3), Latakia (2), Raqqa (2). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 80% (122), were reportedly caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Russia (80 civilian casualties), Syria (24), and Turkey (18). Non-state actors caused 14% (21) of civilian casualties, specifically unknown non-state actors (12 civilian casualties), ISIS (6), the Al Fath Al Mubin coalition (2), and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (1). Actors of unknown name and status caused 6% (9) of civilian casualties.

The use of air-launched weapons was the cause of 67% (102) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (96 civilian casualties), and missiles (6). Ground-launched weapons caused 27% (41) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shells (21 civilian casualties), grenades (8), non-specific shelling (8), rockets (2), rocket-propelled grenades (1), and combined ground-launched weapons (1). IEDs, specifically non-specific IEDs, caused 5% (7) of civilian casualties. Weapons of unclear launch method, specifically missiles (1), and combined explosive weapons (1) caused 1% of civilian casualties respectively.

The number of incidents and civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Syria in June 2023 increased compared to levels recorded in May, when 46 incidents caused 49 civilian casualties, of whom 22 were killed and 27 injured. In April, 55 incidents were recorded, which caused 82 civilian casualties (31 killed, 51 injured).

MYANMAR

In June 2023, there were 75 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Myanmar, 41 of which caused 139 civilian casualties, 59 of whom were killed and 80 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 18 children, 30 women, and 40 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 36% of the total 383 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 244 armed-actor casualties were also recorded, 127 of whom were killed and 117 injured.

89% (124) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 64% (89) occurred in villages, 9% (13) in urban residential areas, 5% in schools (7) and police stations (7) respectively, 4% (6) in public buildings, and 1% (2) in entertainment venues.

The states in which civilian casualties were reported in Myanmar were Sagaing (62 civilian casualties), Mon (27), Karen (26), Kachin (7), Shan (6), Yangon (6), Bago (3), Tanintharyi (1), Chin (1). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 84% (117), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically the Myanmar military junta. Non-state actors caused 14% (13) of civilian casualties, specifically the People’s Defence Forces (12) and unknown non-state actors (8). Actors of unknown name and status caused 1% (2) of civilian casualties.

Ground-launched weapons caused 60% (84) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shelling (53 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (20), and mortars (11). The use of air-launched weapons caused 19% (27) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (23 civilian casualties) and missiles (4). IEDs caused 13% (18) of civilian casualties, specifically air-dropped IEDS (8 civilian casualties (8), non-specific IEDs (8), and roadside bombs (2). Mines, specifically landmines, caused 4% (6) of civilian casualties, and combined explosive weapons caused 3% (4) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Myanmar in June 2023 increased compared to May, when 69 incidents caused 102 reported civilian casualties (29 killed, 73 injured). In April, 59 incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, which resulted in 309 reported civilian casualties (181 killed, 128 injured).

SOMALIA

In June 2023, there were 14 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Somalia, eight of which resulted in 63 civilian casualties, 35 of whom were killed and 28 injured. Civilian casualties included at least two children, and two women. Overall, civilians accounted for 42% of all 149 casualties in Somalia in June, as 86 armed actors casualties were also recorded, 64 of whom were killed and 22 injured.

All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 59% (37) occurred in urban residential areas, 25% (16) in hotels, and 16% (10) in villages.

The regions in which civilian casualties were recorded in Somalia in June are Puntland (25 civilian casualties), Banaadir (17), Lower Shabelle (16), and Middle Jubba (5).

52% (33) of civilian casualties were caused by non-state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Al Shabaab (18 civilian casualties), and unknown non-state actors (15). Actors of unknown name and status caused 40% (25) of civilian casualties, and unknown state actors caused 8% (5) of civilian casualties.

The use of IEDs caused 52% (33) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific IEDs (31 civilian casualties), and car bombs (2). Ground-launched weapons, specifically mortars, caused 40% (25) of civilian casualties, and air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 8% (5) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Somalia in June 2023 increased compared to May, when 10 incidents caused 10 reported civilian casualties, eight of whom were killed and two injured. In April, eight incidents were recorded, which resulted in 234 civilian casualties (15 killed, 219 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.