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Explosive violence in March 2021

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© AOAV

In March 2021, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 1,140 deaths and injuries from 196 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 70% (794) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 82% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 33% in other areas.

Improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 60% of these civilian casualties in March 2021, while manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 40%. Of the main launch method types, ground-launched explosive weapons were responsible for 30% of civilian casualties, air-launched explosive weapons for 8%, and IEDs for 60%. The remaining 2% of civilian casualties were caused by landmines.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 27 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan and Colombia -- in terms of civilian casualties.

Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in March, with 202 civilian casualties recorded from explosive violence. While civilian casualties caused by explosive violence have been decreasing in Afghanistan since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, last month saw a jump in civilian deaths and injuries from explosive weapons in the country; civilian casualties rose 37% from the previous month.

Syria also saw a 40% increase in civilian casualties compared to the previous month. AOAV recorded 201 civilian casualties from explosive weapons in March, compared to 144 in February. Most Syrian civilian casualties in March (67% / 134) were caused by ground-launched weapons. In one particular incident on 21st March, a hospital in Aleppo city was struck by ground-launched artillery shells, killing 8 and injuring 14, including children.

In Somalia, AOAV recorded 89 casualties, of which 84% (75) were civilians. The majority of civilian casualties (57) and all armed actor casualties were caused by IEDs. The rest (18) of the civilian casualties were caused by mortar strikes. On March 5th, 2021, a suicide car bomb attack took place outside a restaurant, near the main port in Mogadishu, killing at least 20 civilians and injuring 30 others.

Similarly, in both Pakistan and Colombia, most civilian casualties were caused by IEDs. In Pakistan, 42 of the 52 civilian casualties recorded from explosive weapons were caused by IED attacks. In Colombia, all civilian casualties recorded were the result of a single car bomb attack in the town of Corinto, western Colombia, which injured 43 people on 27th March 2021.

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.