Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Third Straight Year Casualties Increase In January In Iraq


For the last three years the number of deaths in Iraq has increased in January. Usually this coincided with Shiite pilgrimages, but this year it was an increase in attacks upon the general population and the security forces.

January 2013 saw an increase in fatalities from December 2012. Iraq Body Count in its early report had 341 people killed in January, up from 272 in December. Agence France Presse has started its own record of deaths, and had 246 in January compared to 144 in December. The Iraqi government reported a decreases going from 208 in December to 177 in January. For the last several years Baghdad’s official numbers have been decidedly lower than Iraq Body Count’s. The government does not provide any details on its figures, so there’s no way to tell what they are counting and what they are not. A likely reason for the difference is politics, because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki controls both the Interior and Defense Ministries, which are two of the three main sources for information on casualties.


Deaths In Iraq 2011-2013
Month
Iraq Body Count
Iraqi Ministries
Avg. Monthly Deaths
Avg. Daily Deaths
Jan. 2011
389
259
324
10.4
Feb.
252
167
209
7.4
Mar.
308
247
277
8.9
Apr.
287
211
249
8.3
May
379
177
278
8.9
Jun.
386
271
328
10.9
Jul.
307
259
283
9.1
Aug.
400
239
319
10.2
Sep.
397
185
291
9.7
Oct.
365
258
311
10.3
Nov.
278
187
232
7.7
Dec.
388
155
271
8.7
2011 Mo. Avg.
344
217
306
9.2
2011 Totals
4,136
2,615
-
-
Jan. 2012
524
151
337
10.8
Feb.
356
150
253
8.7
Mar.
376
112
244
7.8
Apr.
392
126
259
8.6
May
304
132
218
7.0
Jun.
529
131
330
11.0
Jul.
466
325
395
12.7
Aug.
422
164
293
9.4
Sep.
396
365
380
12.6
Oct.
290
144
217
7.0
Nov.
238
166
202
6.7
Dec.
272
208
240
7.7
2012 Mo. Avg.
378
178
278
9.1
2012 Totals
4,557
2,174
-
-
Jan. 2013
341
177
259
8.3


 
A man wounded at the Jan. 23 bombing of a funeral in Tuz Khurmato (Reuters)

January’s increase marks a recent trend in Iraqi violence. In 2011 and 2012, Al Qaeda in Iraq went after Shiite pilgrims, which accounted for an uptick in deaths in January compared to the previous month. This year the number of deaths went up as well, but it was because of attacks upon a variety of targets. On January 3, there was a car bombing in Musayib in northern Babil province that targeted Shiite pilgrims heading for Karbala that left 27 dead. On January 16, a bomb went off in front of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s offices in Kirkuk, that killed 21, and wounded 154. On January 17, a series of car bombs, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), gunfire and mortars led to 34 fatalities across Karbala, Salahaddin, Baghdad, Diyala, and Ninewa provinces. January 22 was very similar with 31 killed in ten different cities and towns. On January 23, a suicide bomber attacked a Turkmen funeral in Tuz Khurmato, Salahaddin that left 43 dead. It was this combination of small scale attacks and mass casualty bombings that accounted for the rise in deaths in January.

This represents the new trend in attacks in Iraq. January sees an increase then there is a drop until the summer months when violence goes up, until they go back down at the end of the year. Although still capable of very deadly attacks, the Iraqi insurgency is no longer able to maintain a high level of operations year around. For about half of the year they are very active. That drops for the other half, as they have to resupply and plan for the next round of bombings and shootings. The security forces are no longer carrying out counterinsurgency operations that might prevent these attacks, so for the foreseeable future this pattern will continue.

SOURCES

Adnan, Duraid, “Bombing at a Funeral in Northern Iraq Kills at Least 35,” New York Times, 1/23/13

Agence France Presse, “Iraq casualties from violence (December 2012)”
- “Iraq casualties from violence (January 2013)”
- “Iraq Figures Show Violence Down in January,” 2/3/13

Aswat al-Iraq, “21 killed, 154 wounded final toll of Kirkuk explosions,” 1/16/13
- “Car bomb kills 13, wounds 57 in Babel,” 1/3/13
- “Casualties of Babel bombing attack rise to 80,” 1/3/13

Iraq Body Count

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