Terror attacks worldwide drop to lowest level for seven years

In Afghanistan, terrorist violence increased by 31.5 percent resulting in an 81.8 percent rise in casualties. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Terror attacks worldwide drop to lowest level for seven years

  • Daesh remains the most deadly group but number of attacks drops significantly
  • Afghanistan now the deadliest country due to Taliban gains and Daesh insurgency

LONDON: Afghanistan is now the deadliest country in the world for terrorism although the total number of terror attacks globally fell by a third last year.
The decrease is revealed in the latest annual report by Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center (JTIC) Global Attack Index, published on Wednesday. The index recorded 15,321 attacks by non-state armed groups in 2018 — 33.2 percent fewer than in 2017. The figure is the lowest since 2011 and the lowest since JTIC began collecting data in 2009.
Attacks by Daesh fell by 71 percent and the number of deaths more than halved in 2018. The decrease is largely due to Daesh losing territory the previous year in Iraq, and in Syria as the government regained control over key areas in and around Damascus.
But the extremists group remains the most deadly in terms of the number of civilians it killed .
Attacks in Syria fell by almost two-thirds — 63.6 percent — meaning it is no longer the most dangerous country on the planet.
That unenviable title now goes to Afghanistan, where terrorist violence increased by 31.5 percent resulting in an 81.8 percent rise in casualties. Daesh remains active in Afghanistan — as well in Pakistan and West Africa — but the figures also indicate the increasing power of the Taliban.
“In addition to periodic mass-casualty attacks by local Islamic State [Daesh] forces, the increases in both attacks and fatalities were representative of the growing strength of the Taliban, which intensified its territorial threat to the Kabul government in both rural areas and increasingly in urban centers,” said Matthew Henman, head of JTIC.
Ukraine, which is locked in a bitter civil war between nationalist Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatists, also bucked the downward trend in 2018 with attacks up by almost a fifth from 3,735 in 2017 to 4,422 in 2018. The JTIC report attributes the rise to increased activity by two pro-Russian militant groups in eastern Ukraine and says the Donetsk People’s Republic has now overtaken Daesh as the world’s most violent group in terms of recorded attacks.
In general, however, violence by militants became less prevalent in 2018. JTIC recorded attacks by non-state armed groups in 90 countries, compared to 116 countries in 2017.
JTIC says it compiles data using local, national and international sources, government and inter-governmental reports and analytical articles and seeks to verify accuracy “through detailed examining and cross-referencing of all available sources.”


Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Unspeakable grief: A husband, wife and three children wiped out in Sri Lanka

  • The Gomez family gather for funeral of a husband and wife and their three sons
  • They were brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine

COLOMBO: The dark wooden coffins, sitting side by side, attested to one family’s unspeakable grief.
The Gomez family gathered Tuesday to say a final farewell to five loved ones — a son, a daughter-in-law and three young grandsons — brutally killed as they attended Easter Sunday Mass at Colombo’s St. Joseph’s Shrine.
“All family, all generation, is lost,” said Joseph Gomez, the family patriarch, as tears welled in his eyes. Dozens of family members and neighbors were gathered in his simple home, where the sound of hymns sung by mourners gently wafted in the background and candles flickered beside three coffins. The bodies of two grandsons have yet to be recovered.
Across Sri Lanka, Tuesday was a national day of mourning as families began to lay to rest the more than 320 victims of the bomb blasts that struck a half-dozen churches and hotels in the island nation.
For the Gomez family, the loss was unfathomable: A 33-year-old son, Berlington Joseph, the young man’s 31-year-old wife Chandrika Arumugam, and their three boys, 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, who would have turned 1 next week. A funeral card with a photo of the family clutched in his hands, the elder Gomez wailed: “I can’t bear this on me, I can’t bear this.”
“My eldest son, my eldest son,” he sobbed as he laid bouquets of red roses and brightly colored daisies on the largest coffin. Next to it was a tiny coffin, a photo of little Avon tucked into a wooden frame nearby.
The coffins, draped with long white tassels, were then carried to a Colombo cemetery and lowered into side-by-side graves.
At St. Joseph’s Shrine, dozens of mourners gathered outside, lighting candles and praying in unison for the victims of Sunday’s blasts as heavily armed soldiers stood guard.
At St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, a funeral service was held Tuesday for victims killed there as they worshipped, led by Cardinal Malcom Ranjith. The church was heavily guarded by hundreds of army, air force and police troops, and soldiers were deployed every 15 feet along the streets of the city some 20 miles north of Colombo.
Throughout the country, people observed a three-minute silence for the victims of the near-simultaneous attacks at three churches and three luxury hotels, and three other related blasts, the deadliest violence to strike Sri Lanka in a decade.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known local extremist group, and on Tuesday, the Daesh group also claimed responsibility, though it provided no proof it was involved and has made unsubstantiated claims in the past.