UN Terrorism 2018

Senegalese UNPOL Officers patrol the streets of Gao, Mali. Photo MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

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Author: Briony Harris, Formative Content

The total number of terrorist attacks worldwide in 2017 decreased by 23%, primarily due to far fewer attacks and deaths in Iraq, according to analysis by the US State Department.

There was a total of 8,584 attacks in 2017, compared to 11,150 attacks the previous year. And there were almost 7,000 fewer deaths during this same period.


Although the attacks took place in 100 different countries in 2017, they were particularly concentrated geographically. Five countries – Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Pakistan and the Philippines – alone accounted for 59% of all the attacks.

And a majority of the deaths – seven out of 10 – were concentrated in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, was responsible for more attacks and deaths than any other terrorist organization. But its power is diminishing – especially in Iraq – and it carried out 23% fewer terrorist attacks causing 53% fewer deaths last year, when compared to 2016.

In another notable shift from previous years, the number of kidnapping victims and hostages declined by 43% between 2016 and 2017.

Despite a positive overall picture, some countries saw an increase in the number of deaths due to terrorist attacks in 2017, most notably Egypt (+124%), Somalia (+100%) and the Philippines (+20%).