Southern Iraq (South Central and South East Regions)
The South Central Region reported 14 incidents during the period, on par with last week’s figure and just above the 2012 weekly average. The slight increase in reported incidents this week was largely driven by activity in northern Babil and Karbala, with the culmination of the Arba’een festival being the occasion of numerous attacks on pilgrims. Elsewhere in the region activity was limited, with a single IED at a market in Kut and another against the office of a school’s headmaster in Diwaniya. This level of activity reflects the largely subdued nature of areas in the South Central Region south of Hilla. The week saw a number of attacks on Shia pilgrims, with most attacks occurring in northern Babil, though there were incidents reported in Hilla and Karbala, including a car bomb in Karbala on 5 January. Further south in Hilla there was a double car bomb attack on 31 December outside the Provincial Council building, with conflicting reports suggesting that both pilgrims and the convoy of the Governor of Babil were the targets. While these constitute significant attacks, the volume and scale fall within parameters expected for the seasonal spike in reporting from this area over the Arba’een pilgrimage.
The South East Region reported a low count of just two incidents during the period, one in Basra and one in Maysan; which is well below the weekly average. A likely reason behind low incidents in Basra was the security plan implemented for the Arba’een pilgrimage. In contrast to other areas, the southern provinces have been very subdued in recent weeks, and the longer term trend is for continued low security incidents. Incident levels may increase in the run up to provincial elections, now only four months away.