Conditions seemed relatively quiet in Iraq for most of last week until a co-ordinated spate of bombings hit the capital on 31 May. Otherwise, the total number of attacks recorded countrywide fell by almost half. At least 31 people were killed and 74 injured in nationwide incidents. Across the country a total of 21 bomb attacks left 21 people dead and 73 injured, although most incidents occurred in the capital and the central provinces. Small arms fire attacks were more evenly distributed countrywide, leaving seven people dead and one injured. A suicide bomber also attacked the Shi’ah al-Waqf facility in central Baghdad on Monday, killing over 20 people, although this figure is not included in the total count of last week’s casualties.
Levels of violence fell in the north of Iraq last week. Both Mosul and Kirkuk were particularly quiet. Among the possible reasons for this are a temporary rise in security measures in both cities. A series of police raids and arrests were implemented around both urban areas surrounding high profile visits by senior politicians. As previously warned, militants based in the area may also be refocussing their efforts elsewhere, with the possibility that some have moved further south to Anbar, Salah ad-Din and Diyala provinces. Some northern militants may also be involved in hostilities in neighbouring Syria, although this is a hypothesis which remains difficult to verify.
The Central provinces saw a decline in violence last week although they still accounted for the bulk of the country’s attacks. Most incidents took place in the capital, mainly in a spate of bombings on 31 May. Diyala province saw a decline in violence whilst Anbar saw a rise. All parts of the region should be considered hazardous.
The southern provinces remained quiet last week, although a bombing in Najaf highlighted the ongoing risk of escalation. Political competitiveness continues to stoke violent attacks by militant groups aimed at intimidating their rivals. While the majority of recent incidents in the south have not involved casualties they nonetheless illustrate the ongoing presence of relatively influential armed groups in the region. Many of these groups remain hostile towards foreigners.
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.