Levels of violence rose in Iraq for the fourth week in a row last week, with a number of people killed and injured in nationwide attacks. Violence was concentrated in Baghdad, Mosul and the districts surrounding the capital. As warned in last week’s Security Update on Iraq Business News there were several attacks conducted against predominantly Shi’ah parts of the country, including the holy city of Karbala, as religious worshippers observed the anniversary of the death of revered cleric Imam Sadiq on 23 September. There was also a spike in kidnappings last week, with eight people abducted around the country, although some may simply have been murdered rather than taken for a ransom exchange. Those kidnapped include three Christian men abducted on a hunting trip in Ta’mim province, two Yazidi civilians taken from Ninawa province and three Bangladeshi women kidnapped in Diyala province. AKE will be issuing its next quarterly kidnap report at the beginning of October. If you would like a free trial of the service please enter your details here.
Turkish and Iranian military operations continue around the borders of Kurdistan, but there were no reported casualties or damage as a result of their activity last week. The confrontation between Ankara, Tehran and the Kurdish rebels based in the Qandil Mountains does not look set to ease any time soon with a number of attacks on Turkish interests in recent weeks and an agreement between Iran and Turkey to co-operate on the matter. Previous years have seen fighting continue until winter conditions make fighting almost impossible in the mountains.
Levels of violence have risen in the central provinces to the highest level seen in 10 weeks. As warned, terrorists conducted a number of attacks against Shi'ah civilians over the past week, with the normally quiet province of Karbala amongst the targets. While responsibility has not yet been claimed the attacks may have been conducted by radical Islamist groups from a Sunni background intent on stirring up sectarian tensions; government sources believe this to be the case. The attacks may have been timed to coincide with a Shi'ah religious event on 23 September (25 Shawwal) which marked the anniversary of the death of revered figure Imam Sadiq, although the Karbala attacks took place two days later. Baghdad also saw an increase in the number of targeted shootings against ministry employees and senior members of the security forces. Businessmen were also targeted in suspected criminal attacks in some parts of the capital. Local national employees are advised to exercise caution and remain on guard.
There were no major developments recorded in the south of the country last week and it remains far quieter than the central and northern provinces, which should be particularly encouraging for the many companies looking to move into the region to do business. However, the lack of incidents and distraction of more mundane issues such as a lengthy visa application process should not lead to any complacency on behalf of those responsible for the health, safety and security of an organisation operating in the region. Sporadic terrorist attacks, kidnappings and other militant and criminal activities will continue to occur.
John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq from before 2003. Further details on the company can be found here while AKE’s intelligence and political risk website Global IntAKE can be accessed here. You can obtain a free trial of AKE’s intelligence reports here. You can also follow John Drake on twitter here.