Central Iraq (Baghdad and Anbar)
Baghdad reported a total of 32 incidents reported this week, a reduction on last week’s figure and on par with the current weekly average. Reporting from across Baghdad was quiet relative to recent months, with attacks on ISF and other government employees particularly low, amounting to only thirteen. The week’s preceding the culmination of the Arba’een festival on 3-4 January saw widespread security operations across Baghdad and it is possible that the recent reduction in reporting reflects the stifling effects of such measures on insurgent activities. There were however several attacks on Shia pilgrims this week. On 31 December a suicide car-bomb in Karrada which killed four and wounded sixteen, and mortars targeted on a procession south of the capital in Latifiya. Following this, on 3 and 4 January, pilgrims returning from Karbala were targeted with IEDs in south east Baghdad, resulting in at least three dead and twenty wounded.
Anbar reported a total of 20 incidents this week, an increase on last week’s figure and almost double the current weekly average. In line with the 12 month trend Fallujah remained the centre of activity, with a total of ten incidents occurring within the city limits. Whilst attacks, largely targeting ISF, are a relatively common occurrence in Fallujah, one incident this week stood out, when gunmen surrounded an police checkpoint in the centre of the city and summarily executed three police officers. Beyond incidents of violence, there were further demonstrations stemming from the arrest of Finance Minister Rafi Issawi’s bodyguards in late December. Ramadi remains the central focus for the current demonstrations which have remained peaceful. Elsewhere in Anbar, few incidents were reported, although sporadic activity on the Syrian border, likely a product of smuggling activities, showed no signs of abating with two separate incidents reported.