| 22 May 2024, Wednesday |

Terrorism deaths jump 17% in 2020 despite drop in attacks since pandemic

Deaths from terrorism have risen more than 17 per cent around the world despite a decrease in the number of attacks, security consultancy Janes said.

Figures from the group show an increase of 2,543 deaths from terrorist activity in 2020 from 2019.

Using data from the 2020 Global Attack Index, Janes said there were 17,122 deaths from attacks by non-state armed groups, in a 17.4 per cent increase from 2019.

But the number of attacks decreased by 3.7 per cent during the same period to a total of 13,310 in 2020.

“The overall downturn in attacks can be largely attributed to the July ceasefire in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which resulted in attacks dropping by one third in the high-tempo separatist conflict,” said Matthew Henman, head of terrorism and insurgency at Janes.

“This decrease masked major shifts in violence in Afghanistan and key conflict zones in sub-Saharan Africa, though, where attacks and resultant fatalities rose dramatically.”

Janes said there were 2,373 attacks by terrorist groups in Afghanistan in 2020, making it the most dangerous country for the number recorded.

It was also the country with the most terrorism-related deaths, recording 6,617 last year, which was up 15.9 per cent from 2019.

“The fatality total accounted for more than one-third [38.6 per cent] of all non-militant fatalities worldwide, and was higher than the cumulative total of the next six deadliest countries,” Mr Henman said.

“Across 2020, the most attacks were recorded in Afghanistan, while the country, coupled with Syria and Ukraine, cumulatively accounted for more than half of all attacks worldwide.”

Janes said the increasing violence in Afghanistan was driven “almost exclusively” by Taliban attacks on security forces.

“The Taliban further challenged the Afghan state for control of territory across the year, as the group pushed to degrade security force capabilities and further strengthen its position for nascent peace talks with the government,” Mr Henman said.

Attacks in Syria and Ukraine decreased by 29.1 per cent and 36.5 per cent respectively between 2019 and 2020, both offsetting the significant rise in Afghanistan and somewhat accounting for the overall decrease in attacks.”

Mr Henman said there was a 50 per cent increase in attacks recorded in Iraq, rising to 1,466 in 2020.

“The increase in attacks in Iraq was largely driven by ISIS’s Iraq province, which accounted for half of all recorded ISIS attacks worldwide in 2020,” he said.

“Low-level asymmetric operations by the group rose in tempo across the year, alongside periodic mass-casualty attacks, underlining the slow but steady resurgence of the group following its territorial defeat in Iraq in November 2017.”

Janes’s data shows that attacks by ISIS rose 2.9 per cent. It said that indicated “a degree of stabilisation” after consecutive years of decreasing attack totals since 2016.

It said deaths from these attacks grew by 16.8 per cent.