At least 76 people were killed and 184 injured in nationwide attacks in Iraq last week. This is a rise from the previous week and largely attributable to a series of attacks in Baghdad. A series of bombing and suicide attacks targeting the police in the capital left numerous people dead on 12 October. The energy sector should also note that Basrah province has seen a rise in attacks on local pipeline infrastructure. Meanwhile in neighbouring Turkey, a series of attacks against the police and military by suspected Kurdish terrorists may spark a rise in retaliatory attacks against suspected rebel hideouts in the mountains of Kurdistan.
The past 48 hours have seen several terrorist attacks against the Turkish police and military in Hakkari and Bitlis provinces, leaving 26 troops and police officers dead and several more injured. This is the most severe in a series of recent attacks on security forces in the south east of Turkey and Ankara will likely respond with counter-insurgency operations and cross-border raids into the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq, although the majority of individuals and business interests in the Kurdish region will remain unaffected.
There was a spike of incidents in the town of Shirqat in northern Salah ad-Din province last week, and personnel are advised to exercise caution if operating or travelling through the area. Otherwise, violence was concentrated in Ba’qubah and eastern Anbar province, as well as in the capital Baghdad. Levels of violence rose in Baghdad over the past week and it was by far the most hostile part of the country, accounting for 40 per cent of all violent incidents. A total, some 53 people (not including militants or terrorists) were killed in attacks last week, which is very high when compared to the usual figure range of 10 to 30 and the worst figure recorded since late January when an attack on a Shi’ah funeral in Shu’lah district left at least 51 people dead and 121 injured. The latest attacks were mainly directed against the police, but the normally quiet Shi’ah district of Sadr city was also targeted in a double bombing on 13 October.
Indirect fire (rockets and mortars) left three US soldiers injured in an attack on Butayrah airbase in Maysan province last week. Attacks against US interests may increase over the coming three months as militants attempt to discredit and pressure Washington ahead of the end of year Status of Forces Agreement withdrawal deadline.
In addition to the Butarah attack the south of Iraq saw a series of incidents last week, which is unusual for the normally quiet region. On 10 October six people were killed during a de-mining accident at the Rumaila field in Basrah province. Also on 10 October open sources reported that three explosive devices were defused underneath oil pipelines in Basrah province on Monday night. Security conditions remain better in the southern provinces than the central region but this will have been the second attack on pipelines in the area in a week. Oil and gas companies are advised to review their security measures accordingly.
John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq since 2003. You can access AKE’s intelligence website Global Intake here, and you can obtain a free trial of AKE’s Iraq intelligence reports here.