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Explosive Events: Monitoring explosive violence in 2013

Originally published


Major increase in global civilian casualties from explosive weapons, report reveals.

New data released today by UK-NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) shows that civilian deaths and injuries in 2013 from explosive weapons have increased by 15%, up from 2012.

The findings are clear: civilians bore the brunt of bombings worldwide. AOAV recorded 37,809 deaths and injuries in 2013, 82% of whom were civilians. The trend was even worse when these weapons were used in populated areas. There civilians made up a staggering 93% of casualties.

These stark figures mean that civilian casualties from bombings and shelling worldwide have gone up for a second consecutive year.

This data is captured in AOAV’s latest report, “Explosive Events,” analysing the global harm from the use of explosive weapons like missiles, artillery and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The full report can be found here.


  • Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon were the most affected countries in the world. More than a third of the world’s civilian casualties from explosive weapons were recorded in Iraq, where AOAV saw a dramatic escalation in bombings with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
  • Seventy-one percent (71%) of civilian casualties from explosive weapons worldwide were caused by IEDs like car bombs and roadside bombs.
  • Civilian casualties in Iraq increased by 91% from 2012, with more than 12,000 deaths and injuries recorded in the country in 2013.
  • Market places were bombed in 15 countries and territories, causing 3,608 civilian casualties.
    Ballistic missiles, used only in Syria, caused an average of 49 civilian casualties per incident, the highest for any explosive weapon type.

“The single biggest incident AOAV recorded in 2013 was a car bombing in Lebanon last summer,” said Director of Policy Iain Overton. “IEDs are increasingly a weapon of choice in populated areas, but still it gets treated as business as usual. We need to do much more collectively to tackle this growing problem.”

“Yet again last year most explosive violence took place in populated areas, in places where civilians should feel safe,” said AOAV’s Chief Executive Steve Smith MBE. “How can we tolerate a world where going to the market for groceries might see you blown to pieces? It’s outrageous, and the bombing of populated areas simply has to stop.”


To find more about AOAV’s work on explosive weapons, go to AOAV’s report is drawn from almost 500 different English-language media sources. It captures only a snapshot of worldwide explosive violence as reported in the news media. As such it presents only a low estimate of the real extent of suffering caused by explosive violence.
AOAV is a founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), a coalition of NGOs working to prevent the suffering caused by explosive weapons. UK-based organisations Oxfam International and Save the Children are also members.

Iain Overton, Director of Policy and Investigations, (07984 645145)
Robert Perkins, Senior Weapons Researcher, (020 7256 9500)