The number of civilian casualties from improvised explosive devices, including car bombs and suicide attacks, has increased by 70 per cent worldwide over the past three years, according to research published yesterday.
More than 53,000 civilians were killed by IEDs between 2011 and 2013. Civilian casualties from suicide bombings went up by more than a third and car bomb attacks increased by more than 200 per cent. Civilians accounted for more than 80 per cent of those killed or injured.
The figures were released by Action on Armed Violence, a London-based research and advocacy group funded by governments, the UN and human rights organisations.
Iain Overton, the group's director of policy and investigations, said: "This huge increase in the number of innocent victims harmed and killed by IEDs is a terrible concern - not only to those whose lives are transformed in an instant by these pernicious weapons, but to governments who have to bear the costs of the medical and security implications of these attacks.
"The use of suicide and car bombing as a major weapon is spreading, and fast. Countries that had not seen their use five years ago are experiencing their horrors now."
The group recorded IED attacks in 66 countries and territories, though nearly half the civilian casualties were in Iraq, where 70 per cent of all car bomb explosions took place last year.
Of particular concern was that each car bomb attack caused an average of 25 civilian casualties, while roadside bombs caused an average of four.
Suicide bombings - reported in 26 countries - accounted for about a third, or 18,233, of civilian casualties from IEDs, with attacks in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.
There was also an increase in IED incidents in populated areas. This was significant, as casualties were much more likely to be civilians when attacks occurred in such areas, the group said.
Civilian casualties from all explosive weapons in Iraq increased by more than 90 per cent in 2013 compared with the previous year, the group said in a report in April. Some 37,809 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2013 in more than 2,700 incidents.
"Governments should wake up to this emerging reality," said Steve Smith, the group's chief executive. "Explosive munition stockpiles should be better maintained to prevent explosives from being smuggled out.
"Victims of IED attacks should receive proper medical and psychological help. And society at large should respond, condemning this rising use, just as they did on landmines and poison gas."