Levels of violence rose in Iraq last week with more incidents recorded than any other week since the March 2010 election. In total, at least 84 people were killed and 206 injured in nationwide incidents – a very high figure for the country. The vast majority of incidents took place in the central region. In total, at least 74 separate bomb attacks left 56 people dead and 193 injured. Small arms fire left 22 people dead and 13 injured – a relatively high but consistent figure for the country.
A hotel manager was kidnapped in Kirkuk, while a series of bombings took place in both Ta’mim and Ninawa provinces. Levels of violence were high, but consistently so. The Turkish military was also reported to have launched an assault on suspected PKK targets in the Qandil Mountains but there have been no reports of casualties or excessive damage. The Kurdish region remains quiet overall.
A spike in attacks swept the central provinces on 19 April, with seemingly co-ordinated bombings killing up to 46 people in the space of a few hours. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has since claimed responsibility for the incidents. Of the total number of countrywide attacks last week, AKE documented 74 separate bombings, which left 56 people dead and 193 injured, mostly in the central region. Of those attacks, five involved suicide bombings – an unusually high number, even for Iraq. However, while suicide attacks in the country in the past have often inflicted large numbers of casualties, the latest do not appear to have been well planned or executed (some of the bombers detonated their explosive belts because their homes had been raided by the police). At least eight people were killed (not including the bombers themselves) and 24 injured in such attacks. Indirect fire attacks (rockets and mortars) were also recorded in Samarra and Tikrit but they caused no damage or casualties.
A series of ‘percussion’ or ‘sound’ bombs have been reported in southern cities, particularly Basrah over recent weeks, but they caused no casualties and are thought to have been aimed at intimidating political figures associated with the government or influential clerics. Regardless of the lack of casualties however, the incidents highlight ongoing tensions between rival groups in the southern region. While foreign nationals and private organisations are not being directly targeted in the attacks they should nonetheless bear in mind that several of these groups are ideologically opposed to any notion of a strong western presence in the country. If they gain power over the coming months it could pose an increasing worry for the many foreign investors looking to work in the area.
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.