Readers of the weekly update will recall that the last entry detailed one of the most hostile seven days since AKE began contributing to Iraq Business News. Fortunately conditions improved over the course of last week. There was a fall (by half) in the number of bombings reported, while shootings declined as well. Kidnap for ransom evidently remains a concern, with two individuals being abducted over the course of last week, but one of the victims was rescued by the police in Babil province, indicative that security force capabilities are continuing to rise. Violence was concentrated in and around Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk as per usual, although parts of Anbar, Babil and Diyala provinces also saw clusters of militant activity.
Conditions quietened in the northern provinces last week, although there was still a fairly high concentration of attacks in Mosul and Kirkuk. There was also a spate of incidents around the town of Sinjar, which over recent months has been relatively quiet. A member of the Yazidi community was abducted in Ninawa province on 25 May, but it is the police who continue to suffer the majority of attacks in the region. On 31 May in Kurdistan the authorities are reported to have made safe a sticky bomb (Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device – UVIED) attached to a car driving from Kirkuk towards Arbil. Terrorism remains a very rare occurrence in Kurdistan and the incident highlights the vigilance of the Kurdish security forces. Nonetheless, while terrorists have little opportunity to conduct attacks in the region they do have high intent. Personnel should regard Kurdistan as a largely safe place to visit and do business in, but a level of safety awareness is still recommended.
Baghdad saw a decline in violence last week, but other parts of the central provinces actually saw a rise in activity, sharply contrasting to the rest of the country. There was a spate of attacks around the Anbar towns of Ramadi and Abu Ghraib, with police officers and the Iraqi army suffering the bulk of attacks. The worst single incident was a suicide bombing in Abu Ghraib which left three Iraqi soldiers dead and seven injured on 26 May. More positively, a kidnap victim was freed by the police after they stopped the car of the abductor at a checkpoint in Babil province. Kidnap for ransom remains a concern in the central region but improving police competencies in the area has led to a significant drop in this type of criminality over recent years.
Conditions remained relatively quiet in the south of Iraq last week, although there was a handful of militant and criminal activity in Basrah. A bomb targeted a US convoy to the west of the city, injuring a female bystander, while criminals attacked two police officers in the city on 29 May, stealing a reported 28 million dinars in salaries that the officers were intending to deliver. In Dhi Qar province security measures have been heightened by the authorities over the past 48 hours following a rise in the number of low-level attacks taking place in the area. Conditions are far more stable in the southern region than other parts of the country but there are still no grounds for complacency. Fairly robust security measures are still recommended by personnel operating in the area, although armoured vehicle convoys and heavily fortified compounds should not be seen as the only option for protection. These can be vulnerable to specialist explosive devices and mortars, while Basrah’s relatively good level of stability means that less high profile security measures are often preferable, depending on the nature of a company’s profile and business in the province. For further details, please contact the AKE Iraq security department.
John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq since 2003. Further details on the company can be found here while AKE’s intelligence and political risk website Global IntAKE can be accessed here.