There was a fall in the number of attacks recorded in Iraq last week, but the death toll was nonetheless higher than normal following a mass-casualty suicide attack targeting a police academy in Baghdad. In total, at least 45 people were killed and 74 injured in nationwide incidents, of which 19 were killed and 29 injured in the suicide attack.
AKE has tracked a notable decline in violence in Ninawa province over the past two weeks. While the police have conducted a number of recent raids in the area which may have led to a lull in militant activity there is growing speculation that al-Qaeda fighters from northern Iraq may be shifting their focus away from the country and towards neighbouring Syria. This would explain the recent decline in activity around Mosul but would bode ill for Iraq’s neighbour.
Diyala province was the most hostile part of Iraq last week, with incidents concentrated between Ba’qubah and Jalawlah towns. Babil was very quiet in contrast. Even the normally stable province of Wassit saw at least one attack and numerous police operations targeting suspected criminals and terrorists. Baghdad has been quieter than normal over recent weeks but the weekend attack on a police academy illustrates the fact that terrorists can still overcome the security measures in place in the city. These measures are currently being tested ahead of the Arab League summit at the end of March and while they are likely to help reduce the overall number of security incidents taking place in the city they should not be regarded as exhaustive.
The southern provinces remain far quieter than the central provinces but they nonetheless continue to see sporadic incidents. There were numerous police operations last week in cities such as Nassiriyah and Basrah. Dozens of suspected criminals and terrorists were arrested, highlighting the fact that threat groups still exist in the region, and caution still needs to be exercised.
John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British risk mitigation company 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.