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Explosive violence in January 2021

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In January 2021, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 1,555 deaths and injuries from 233 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 54% (847) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 88% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 12% in other areas.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for 57% of civilian casualties in January, with manufactured weapons accounting for 40%; a further 3% were due to attacks using both manufactured and improvised explosives.

Of the main launch methods, IEDs were responsible for 57% of civilian casualties, ground-launched explosives were responsible for 25%, landmines for 6%, and airstrikes for 9%. (The remainder were caused by attacks using multiple types or unclear launch methods in their explosive attacks.)

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 26 countries and territories in December. The five worst impacted countries in regard to civilian casualties were Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.

Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons last month, with 199 civilian casualties attributed to explosive violence; a decrease from the 272 recorded the previous month. Of these civilian casualties, 93 (47%) were caused by IEDs; 58 civilian casualties were caused by ground-launched explosive weapons, 38 by airstrikes and 10 by landmines.

Few regions in Afghanistan escaped civilian casualties from explosive violence last month.

AOAV recorded a rise in the number of civilian casualties from explosive violence in Syria, with 192 recorded last month, compared to 49 the previous month. Aleppo was the worst impacted region with 99 civilian casualties recorded there.

65% of the civilian casualties recorded in Syria were caused by IEDs; 26% were due to ground-launched explosive weapons; 5% by airstrikes and another 5% by landmines.

In Iraq, 149 civilian casualties were recorded from explosive weapons. 142 occurred in just one incident, when twin suicide bombings killed and injured more than 140 in Baghdad on January 21st.

AOAV recorded 24 explosive incidents in Somalia. These resulted in 211 casualties, of which 124 were civilians, or 59%. Of civilian casualties, 52% were caused by IEDs, 20% by ground-launched explosive weapons and the remainder by airstrikes (one civilian casualty), landmines (14) and attacks using multiple launch methods (20).

Yemen saw a fall in civilian casualties in January compared to the previous month. In January, 36 civilian casualties were recorded, compared to 160 in December 2020. Of these, 31 were caused by ground-launched explosive attacks and five by landmines.

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.