Levels of violence rose in Iraq over the past week, with the highest number of weekly attacks recorded since mid-August. At least 80 people were killed and 197 injured nationwide, with incidents concentrated in Baghdad, Mosul and Babil province. There was also sporadic violence in towns such as Kut, Fallujah and Ba’qubah.
Turkish military operations are ongoing along the northern border of Kurdistan but it is not having a major impact on the security of most civilian and business activities in the region. Slightly further south in Ninawa province a civilian was abducted from a taxi in Mosul on 25 October. The northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk continue to see the majority of the country’s kidnap for ransom incidents. Between July and September and average of 5-6 Iraqis were abducted every month in the country. For further details on kidnap and ransom trends please contact the AKE intelligence office.
Conditions have quietened over recent days in Baghdad and security measures are likely to be heightened for the duration of the Baghdad International Fair. However, last week saw a notable rise in violence in the capital, with roadside bombs around the city targeting the police more than anyone else. At least two people were also injured by indirect fire (rocket and mortar attacks) in central Baghdad. A mortar, possibly aimed at the International/Green Zone, potentially in an attempt to target the US embassy, fell short and hit the quiet and normally well defended district of Jadriyah instead. At the same time, the US military is beginning to pull out its troops from parts of the country and many are concerned over the prospects for stability following the end of the year deadline for their departure.
Christians marked the year anniversary of a bloody attack on a church in central Baghdad on 31 October. The incident left 58 people dead and there were fears the date could see a repeat of attacks on Christian communities in the country. Fortunately no such repeat attacks occurred but many are still concerned that the radical Islamist groups responsible for the incident have not been eradicated. Furthermore with the impending withdrawal of US troops from the country there are fears that a repeat of such an attack will leave the Iraqi authorities to have to deal with it on their own without the support of a Quick Reaction Force.
The south of Iraq was relatively quiet last week although the US and Iraqi authorities have conducted a number of operations, arresting several people with alleged links to terrorist groups. This could spark unrest in urban parts of the south over the coming days and weeks and personnel are advised to monitor conditions closely.
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.