Monday, April 28, 2014

Insurgents Ramp Up Violence Before Iraq’s April Elections

 
Iraq is due to have parliamentary elections on April 30, 2014. Many insurgent groups are opposed to the voting and are doing their best to disrupt the process. They have attacked polling stations and candidates along with their regular operations against the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the general public. The result is that April has seen some of the heaviest violence and casualties so far this year.

In March 2014 the number of security incidents dipped in Iraq, but have picked back up since then. From March 1-7 there were 253 security incidents reported in the press. That was an average of 36.1 attacks per day. That was followed by 206 incidents March 8-14, an average of 29.4, then 216 March 15-21, 30.8, 211 March 22-28, 30.1, and 108 from March 29-31, 36.0. In April those figures have gone up to 238 incidents April 1-7, 34.0, 223 April 8-14, 31.8, and 252 from April 15-21, 36.0 per day. For the year there has been an up and down pattern. There were a total of 1,012 attacks in January for an average of 32.6 per day, 945 incidents in February, average of 33.7, 996 in March, 32.1 per day, and 713 from April 1-7, 33.9. This month the insurgency is obviously picking up their operations to try to disrupt the elections.

The number of security incidents only tells part of the story of Iraq’s current problems, the casualties tell another part of the story. The number of dead and wounded has steadily increased since the beginning of the year. In January there were 1,379 deaths and 2,634 wounded. In February there were 1,274 killed and 2,526 wounded, 1,606 fatalities in March, and 2,901 wounded, and 1,027 killed and 1,982 injured from April 1-21. The rising costs of the insurgency are shown more clearly by the averages. There were 44.4 deaths per day in January, 45.5 per day in February, 51.8 in March, and 48.9 over the first three weeks of April. The same trend is seen with the wounded going from 84.9 per day in January to 94.3 in April. 


Security Incidents In Iraq Jan-Apr 2014
Date
Incidents
Killed
Wounded
Jan 1-7
245
363
736
Jan 8-14
267
372
683
Jan 15-21
202
358
597
Jan 22-28
240
308
624
Jan 29-31
58
93
227
Jan Total
1,012
1,379
2,634
Feb 1-7
204
296
700
Feb 8-14
226
258
505
Feb 15-21
264
346
703
Feb 22-28
251
374
618
Feb Total
945
1,274
2,526
Mar 1-7
253
412
702
Mar 8-14
206
324
607
Mar 15-21
216
423
736
Mar 22-28
211
279
580
Mar 29-31
108
169
270
Mar Total
996
1,606
2,901
Apr 1-7
238
259
550
Apr 8-14
223
362
646
Apr 15-21
252
406
786
Apr 1-21
713
1,027
1,982

Security Incident Averages Jan-Apr 2014
Month
Incidents
Deaths
Wounded
Jan
32.6
44.4
84.9
Feb
33.7
45.5
90.2
Mar
32.1
51.8
93.5
Apr 1-21
33.9
48.9
94.3


The number of shootings has decreased since the beginning of the year, while bombings have gone up. There were 470 gunfire incidents in January, going down to 444 in February, 419 in March, and 289 so far in April. At the same time the number of bombings, mostly improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but also including sticky bombs, car bombs, and suicide bombers has gone from 514 in January to 466 in February, to 579 in March, and 385 in the first three weeks of April. That last month the number of car bombs has increased. For instance there were 18 vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) from April 1-7, 21 from April 8-14, and 20 from April 15-21. These are launched in waves by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and usually coordinated across the country. The third week of April provides a brief sample. The first wave started April 15 when there were two suicide car bombs on the government complex in Ramadi. The next day two suicide bombers attacked the Anbar Operations Command in Ramadi, while two car bombs hit Sadr City and Obeidi both in eastern Baghdad. April 17 three VBIEDs struck Karrada, Obeidi and Sadr City in the capital. April 18 there were no such attacks. Then the second wave started on April 19 with a car bomb on an army base in Sumer, Ninewa and another in Baiji, Salahaddin. Then there was a car bomb in Musayib, Babil, a car bomb on a checkpoint in Mosul, Ninewa, and two VBIEDs on Rumaitha, Muthanna on April 20. Finally, April 21 car bombs hit Sadr City and Shaab, and a suicide VBIED in Madain on a checkpoint in Baghdad, another such incident in Mosul, and another checkpoint hit in Wasit. In total these attacks cost the lives of 83 people and wounded an additional 219. The number of car bombs goes up and down as ISIS expends its stocks and has to wait for the next batch to be manufactured.


Types of Attacks Jan-Apr 2014
Month
Shootings
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombers
Jan
470
514
78
45
Feb
444
466
73
43
Mar
419
579
73
43
Apr 1-21
289
385
59
34

Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) April 15-21
Date
Location
Deaths
Wounded
4/15
Ramadi, Anbar x 2
5
12
4/16
Ramadi, Anbar x 2, Sadr City & Obeidi, Baghdad
16
39
4/17
Karrada, Obeidi & Sadr City, Baghdad
16
53
4/18
-
-
-
4/19
Sumer, Ninewa, Baiji, Salahaddin
5
8
4/20
11
46
4/21
30
61
Totals
20
83
219
Site of a car bombing in Baghdad Apr 21, 2014 (AFP)


Militants have also gone after voting centers and candidates to deter people from voting. Just in April there was an IED against a voting center in Ramadi on the 5th. April 6 a grenade was thrown at a candidate’s house in Hit, Anbar. April 7 an IED went off outside a candidate’s home in Hawija, Kirkuk. April 9 two people putting up election posters in Tikrit were shot and wounded. April 11 another candidate’s house was bombed in Kirkuk wounding his wife and son. The same thing happened the next day in the same city. April 14 the son of a candidate in Kirkuk was kidnapped. April 17 and 18 two candidates were shot and wounded in separate incidents. April 19 a sticky bomb attached to his car in Qaim, Anbar, wounded a candidate for Mutahidun. Finally, April 21 a voting center in Daquq, Kirkuk was stormed by gunmen who killed six and wounded another 10. These types of incidents have only increased as the voting draws nearer.

While violence has picked up in recent weeks not all insurgent groups are opposed to the election. Reportedly ISIS, the Naqshibandi, the Army of the Mujahedeen, Ansar al-Islam, and armed factions connected to Harith al-Dhari are all against participating in the balloting. The Islamic State has even launched a campaign telling and threatening people not to vote. The Islamic Army, Hamas Iraq, the Salahaddin Brigades, and the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance support people going out and casting ballots. Since the two largest groups ISIS and the Naqshibandi are trying to stop the vote that likely means attacks will continue to increase. More importantly there’s a questions of whether the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are competent enough to protect the polling stations and public on April 30. Usually the government tries to shut down normal activities by declaring a day off, setting up checkpoints, and banning vehicle traffic. With the ISF stretched thin with its commitment in Anbar, and its inability to contain the growth of the insurgency these may not be enough this year, and serious incidents may take place.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, "Bombers kill five at Iraq provincial govt compound," 4/16/14

AIN, "Car bomb explodes in northern Babel," 4/20/14
- "Voting Center detonated in central Ramadi," 4/5/14

Al Forat, "Wasit car bombing kills, injured 27 persons as initial count," 4/21/14

Iraq Times, "A car bomb explosion north of Wasit 29 martyrs and wounded," 4/21/14
- "The explosion of two car bombs in Sadr City led to 25 martyrs and wounded,"4/17/14

Al Jazeera, "Dozens killed in Iraq attacks and bombings," 4/21/14
- "Many dead in Iraq violence ahead of vote," 4/20/14

Al Mada, "Bomb kills carriers and infects a woman north of Tikrit," 4/19/14

Al Masalah, "3 killed and 39 injured by a roadside bombs north of Samawah," 4/20/14
- "5 killed 18 wounded by a car bomb in New Baghdad," 4/16/14
- "Killing three civilians and wounding 14 by a roadside bomb," 4/16/14

New Sabah, “”Daash” Dari and suites and the league are boycotting the elections…and the Islamic Army and “Hammas” and “Council of Resistance” with the ballot,” 4/25/14

NINA, "Army kills three bombers and destroys their car bombs," 4/20/14
- "One civilian killed, 11 others wounded in two separate incidents in Baghdad," 4/21/14
- "One soldier killed, two others wounded by a car bomb west of Mosul," 4/21/14

Al Rayy, "Martyrdom and wounding 13 people, including soldiers in car bomb detonation south east of Mosul," 4/19/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding a number of people in a car bombing in Mosul," 4/21/14

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Gunmen Attack Iraq Military Base, Kill 10 Soldiers," Associated Press, 4/17/14
- "Iraq: Separate attacks kill at least 12 people," 4/20/14

Xinhua, "36 killed, 53 wounded in violent attacks across Iraq," 4/16/14

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