Terrorist violence in the Philippines was relatively consistent
between 2015 and 2016. However, due to declining frequency of terrorist
attacks elsewhere, the Philippines ranked fifth among countries in terms
of total attacks in 2016. The number of attacks in the Philippines
declined by 2% (490 in 2015 to 482 in 2016), and the total number of
deaths in the Philippines increased by 5% (260 in 2015 to 272 in 2016).
Like India, the average lethality of terrorist attacks in the
Philippines (0.6 deaths per attack) was markedly lower than the global
average in 2016 (2.4 deaths per attack). Terrorist attacks in the
Philippines were slightly less likely to be successful (76%) in the
Philippines, compared to worldwide trends (81%)
Among the ten countries that experienced the most terrorist
attacks in 2016, the percentage of people killed who were perpetrators was
lowest in the Philippines – 7%. This figure has declined since 2014, when
21% of all deaths in the Philippines were perpetrator deaths.
Although the number of terrorist attacks in the Philippines in
which people were kidnapped or taken hostage remained stable between 2015
and 2016, the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage increased 70%,
from 127 in 2015 to 216 in 2016.
In three cases, one carried out by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in
January and two carried out by the Communist Party of the Philippines/New
People’s Army (CPP/NPA) in November and December, approximately 20 to 30
civilians were abducted from a bus and released the same day.
For 57% of all attacks in the Philippines in 2016, the source
materials did not identify the perpetrator group responsible for the
attack. Among the remaining attacks, 57% were carried out by the
(CPP/NPA), 20% were carried out by the ASG, and 13% were attributed to the
Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement. An additional 6% of remaining attacks
(12 events) were attributed to ISIS or the ISIS-linked Maute Group.
Terrorist attacks in the Philippines in 2016 targeted
non-diplomatic government targets more than any other type of target. In
fact, these targets comprised 39% of all attacks in the Philippines,
compared to 10% globally. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the attacks on
government entities targeted politicians, political parties, and political
rallies/meetings, rather than government employees and facilities (17%),
or election-related targets (10%). An additional 21% of attacks in the
Philippines in 2016 targeted private citizens and property, and 12%
targeted the police.
The primary tactics used by terrorists in the Philippines differed
considerably from global trends in 2016. Although bombings were the most
common tactic in the Philippines, they comprised one-third (33%) of all
attacks in the Philippines, compared to more than half (57%) worldwide. In
contrast, assassinations were more than four times as prevalent in the
Philippines (29% of all attacks) as globally (7% of all attacks). The
frequency of assassinations increased 131% between 2014 and 2016. In 2016,
the vast majority of these attacks (81%) targeted politicians and
political party members.
Sixty of the Philippines’ 81 provinces experienced terrorist
attacks in 2016. Although the attacks were geographically dispersed, five
locations experienced more than 20 attacks throughout the year:
Maguindanao (62), Basilan (32), North Cotabato (27), Masbate (23), and
The frequency and lethality of terrorism in Nigeria continued to
decline in 2016, following severe increases in the total number of
attacks, deaths, injuries, and hostages in 2014. Compared to 2015, the
number of attacks declined by 21%, the total number people killed due to
terrorist attacks declined by 63%, total injuries declined by 67%, and the
number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in terrorist attacks declined
The number of perpetrators killed in terrorist attacks in Nigeria
decreased by 80% from 2015 to 2016, accounting for one-fifth (21%) of the
decline in total deaths in Nigeria. Perpetrator deaths comprised 9% of
total deaths in Nigeria in 2016, compared to 26% worldwide.
In 2016, the average lethality of terrorist attacks in Nigeria was
4.4 deaths per attack, compared to 9.5 deaths per attack in 2015. Despite
these reductions, more than 1,800 people were killed, and Nigeria ranked
fourth among countries in terms of total fatalities due to terrorism in
Exceptionally lethal attacks became somewhat less prevalent in
Nigeria in 2016. In 2014, there were 20 individual attacks that caused
more than 50 total fatalities in Nigeria. In 2015, there were eight such
attacks, and in 2016 there were four, none of which resulted in more than
In 2014 and 2015, attack patterns in Nigeria were characterized by
numerous instances of multi-part, coordinated, highly lethal attacks,
typically carried out by Boko Haram. In contrast, there was one series of
attacks, reportedly carried out by Fulani militants, in February 2016 in
which assailants killed at least 300 people in six different villages in
Information about perpetrator groups was reported for 77% of
terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2016. Due to a 63% decrease in the number
of attacks carried out by Boko Haram and a 62% increase in the number of
attacks carried out by Fulani militants, Fulani militants were responsible
for the most terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2016.
In 2016, 97% of terrorist attacks in Nigeria were attributed to
five perpetrator groups. Fulani militants – who are engaged in a land
resource conflict in eastern Nigeria – were responsible for 146 terrorist
attacks (40%) and 795 total deaths, at least two of which were perpetrator
deaths. Boko Haram was responsible for 137 terrorist attacks (38%) and 762
total deaths, more than 150 of which were perpetrator deaths. In addition,
several new groups emerged in the Niger Delta region, including the Niger
Delta Avengers (responsible for 47 attacks) and the Niger Delta Greenland Justice
Mandate (responsible for 10 attacks). Assailants described as Ijaw
militants also carried out 11 attacks in Lagos, Delta, and Ogun, killing
more than 60 people.
The majority of terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2016 (62%)
targeted private citizens and property, compared to 41% worldwide.
Seventy-five percent of the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that targeted
private citizens and property victimized the residents of entire villages,
towns, or cities, rather than specific individuals. The second most frequently
attacked targets in Nigeria in 2016 were utilities, primarily oil-related
targets in Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers. Attacks on utilities comprised 17%
of terrorist attacks in Nigeria, compared to 3% worldwide.
In 2016, terrorist attacks took place in 26 states and the Federal
Capital Territory. The increasingly disparate nature of perpetrator groups
in Nigeria was also reflected in the geographic distribution of attacks.
From 2013 to 2015 more than 40% of terrorist attacks in Nigeria were
concentrated in Borno. In 2016, this decreased to 25%, while the share of
attacks that took place in Benue increased from 11% in 2015 to 20% in
2016, the share of attacks that took place in Delta increased from 1% in
2015 to 12% in 2016, the share of attacks that took place in Kaduna
increased from 2% in 2015 to 7% in 2016, and the share of attacks that
took place in Bayelsa increased from 1% in 2015 to 5% in 2016.
The total number of deaths from terrorist attacks worldwide
decreased by 13%, from 29,424 in 2015 to 25,621 in 2016. These figures
include perpetrator deaths, which decreased by 6%, from 7,150 in 2015 to
6,755 in 2016.
Shown in Figure 1, nearly half of all attacks in 2016 (47%) were
non-lethal, and attacks that caused more than ten deaths represented a
relatively small proportion (5%) of all terrorist attacks in 2016. This
pattern is generally consistent with the pattern of casualties in 2015,
although the number of attacks that caused more than 10 fatalities did
decrease 21% from 620 attacks (causing nearly 16,000 deaths) in 2015 to
491 attacks (causing approximately 14,000 deaths) in 2016.
1: Casualties due to terrorist attacks worldwide, 2016*
These attacks occurred in 32 different countries in 2016,
including most frequently Iraq (187), Afghanistan (101), Syria (51), and
The number of exceptionally lethal terrorist attacks in which more
than 100 people were killed continued to decline in 2016. In 2014, 20 such
attacks took place, primarily driving the dramatic increase in total
fatalities that year. In 2015, the number of exceptionally lethal attacks
involving more than 100 deaths declined to 14, and in 2016 this figure
further declined – there were 10 attacks involving more than 100 total
deaths. Seven took place in Iraq, one in Afghanistan, one in Syria, and
one in South Sudan. Combined, these attacks resulted in the deaths of more
than 2,500 people, nearly 800 of whom were perpetrators.
Among the attacks that resulted in only one death in 2016, 46%
were bombings, 27% were armed assaults, 16% were assassinations, and 7%
In 8% of the terrorist attacks that resulted in one death, the
person killed was the perpetrator, and 51% of this subset of attacks were
suicide attacks. The remainder involved a perpetrator who was either
killed accidentally when explosives detonated prematurely, or the attack
was repelled by authorities.
The majority of non-lethal attacks in 2016 were bombings (64%),
and 34% of the non-lethal attacks were unsuccessful (e.g., an explosive
was planted but it was defused or failed to detonate). Overall, the
percentage of attacks that were unsuccessful has been gradually
increasing, to 19% in 2016 from 12% in 2012.
More than 15,000 people were kidnapped or taken hostage in 1,114
terrorist attacks in 2016. While there were 8% fewer kidnapping and
hostage attacks in 2016, the total number of people kidnapped or taken
hostage increased by 27%.
In 20 attacks in 2016, more than 100 victims were kidnapped or
taken hostage. Thirteen of these attacks, involving more than 5,200
victims in total, were carried out in Iraq and Syria by ISIS. The victims
of these attacks included former police officers, children who would
reportedly be trained as suicide bombers, activists, civilians who were
displaced or who refused to fight against security forces, and women who
refused to marry ISIS fighters. More than 1,200 were subsequently killed.
More than 3,500 kidnapping victims or hostages who were taken in
2016 were released, rescued, or escaped from their captors. The remaining
hostages were either killed, remained in captivity, or the outcome of the
event was not reported.
Information about perpetrators was reported in source materials
for 52% of terrorist attacks in 2016. A total of 334 groups and
organizations were identified as perpetrators of terrorist attacks,
compared to 288 in 2015. This includes approximately 100 groups and
organizations that had not previously been identified as perpetrators in
the Global Terrorism Database.
In 35% of the attacks for which there was information about
perpetrator groups, an organization explicitly claimed responsibility. For
the remaining attacks, source documents attributed responsibility to a
particular group or groups based on reports from authorities or observers.
Table 3 shows the five perpetrator groups responsible for the most
terrorist attacks in 2016, along with the number of terrorist attacks they
carried out, the number of people killed and injured by these attacks, and
the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage in these attacks.
Of the attacks for which perpetrator information was reported in
2016, 19% were carried out by ISIS. (Note: Attacks attributed to ISIS in
the Statistical Annex dataset exclude those attributed to specific
declared branches of ISIS such as those operating in Egypt, Libya, and
West Africa. They also do not include attacks carried out by unaffiliated
individuals who might have been inspired by ISIS.) Additionally, 13% of
attacks in 2016 were carried out by the Taliban.
Five perpetrator groups with the most attacks worldwide, 2016
Islamic State of
Iraq and Syria (ISIS)**
Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
* Includes perpetrators
** Excludes attacks attributed to branches of ISIS or ISIS-inspired individuals
Two of the organizations listed in Table 3 carried out more
terrorist attacks in 2016 than they did in 2015, including ISIS (+17%) and
al-Shabaab (+47%). However, while al-Shabaab’s lethality decreased (11%
fewer total deaths in 2016), the total number of deaths caused by ISIS
increased 48% and the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage by ISIS
increased 75% in 2016, compared to 2015.
Terrorist violence by Maoist extremists in India remained fairly
consistent between 2015 and 2016 with respect to the number of attacks,
the number of deaths, and the number of people injured. However the number
of people kidnapped or taken hostage by Maoist extremists in India
In contrast, the number of terrorist attacks carried out by the
Taliban in 2016 decreased 23% compared to 2015, and the total number of
deaths caused by the Taliban’s terrorist attacks decreased 20%. Likewise,
the number of attacks carried out by Houthi extremists decreased 9%, and
there was a dramatic decrease in the casualties caused by terrorist
attacks attributed to Houthi extremists: total deaths declined 62%, total
injuries declined 67%, and the number of people kidnapped or taken hostage
declined 65% between 2015 and 2016.
Note, however, that terrorist attacks by Houthi extremists
increased in Saudi Arabia in 2016. There were 56 attacks carried out by
Houthi extremists in Saudi Arabia, compared to nine in 2015. The majority
of these attacks (80%) involve explosive projectiles (e.g., rockets,
mortars) fired at civilian and military targets.
While ISIS was responsible for 19% fewer terrorist attacks in
Syria (122 in 2016 compared to 150 in 2015), the number of attacks carried
out by ISIS in Iraq increased by 20% (932 in 2016 compared to 775 in
2015). The lethality of these attacks increased 69% (7,338 total deaths in
2016, compared to 4,341 in 2015).
Furthermore, the geographic reach of attacks by ISIS and its
affiliates continued to grow in 2016. The number of attacks attributed to
ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria increased 80%, from 44 in 2015 to 79 in
2016. This does not include attacks attributed to other organizations that
have pledged allegiance to ISIS. In addition to Boko Haram in West Africa,
the most active of these ISIS affiliates were located in
Afghanistan/Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.
Each recorded terrorist attack involves one or more tactics
in a continuous sequence of actions. Shown in Figure 2, the most commonly used
tactic in 2016 involved explosives (54%), followed by armed assaults (21%),
which almost always involved firearms.
2: Tactics used in terrorist attacks worldwide, 2016
In addition to the tactics shown in Figure 2, there were 64
unarmed assaults in 2016 – attacks aimed at harming people, without the
use of explosives or firearms. Unarmed assaults primarily involved melee
weapons, chemical weapons, or vehicles as weapons. There were also 40
hijackings carried out in 2016, primarily targeting cars, trucks, and
buses as well as several boats and cargo ships. Each of these tactics
comprised less than one percent of attacks.
The lethality of terrorist tactics varied considerably. On
average, attacks in which hostages were taken were by far the deadliest in
2016 – both kidnappings and barricade incidents resulted in seven deaths
per attack. The tactics that were least likely to be deadly were unarmed
assaults (79% nonlethal) and facility or infrastructure attacks (97%
The number of suicide attacks decreased by 4%, from 724 in 2015,
to 692 in 2016. Suicide attacks in 2016 killed 7,310 people, including
2,360 perpetrators. Although these attacks took place in 26 countries, 40%
took place in Iraq. On average, suicide attacks in 2016 were 5.8 times as
lethal as non-suicide attacks.
Both tactics and specific types of weapons used
in terrorist attacks were remarkably consistent between 2015 and 2016,
with the exception of the use of vehicles as contact weapons (as opposed
to VBIEDs). The use of vehicles to drive into targets, either as the sole
weapon or in combination with other weapons, remained extremely rare in
2016. Vehicles comprised 0.13% of all weapons used in 2016 – they were
used in 14 attacks, down from 29 attacks in 2015. However, the lethality
of these attacks increased 296%, as they resulted in more than 110 deaths
in 2016, compared to 28 in 2015.
Each attack in the Statistical Annex dataset includes
information on up to three different targets and/or victims. Fewer than 1,000
terrorist attacks in 2016 involved multiple types of targets.
More than half of all targets attacked in 2016
(59%) were classified as either private citizens and property or police, as
shown in Table 4. Terrorist attacks targeting private citizens and property
were particularly prevalent in Cameroon (80%), Syria