A global study by the Institute for Peace and Economics has ranked Afghanistan the 2nd worst country, out of 163, in terms of terrorism in the world.
The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) put Iraq at number one and Afghanistan at number two, followed by Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen – in that order.
GTI Indicators on terrorism attacks in Afghanistan for 2016 stood at:
* Incidents 1,342
* Fatalities 4,574
* Injuries 5,057
Based on the report, Afghanistan had the second highest number of deaths from terrorism in 2016. However this was 14 percent lower than the previous year, in part due to reduced terrorist activity by the Taliban, the report stated.
While this reduction provides some hope, the number of deaths recorded in 2016 was the second highest recorded from terrorism incidents in Afghanistan since the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001.
The report indicates that the Taliban was responsible for 94 percent of attacks by known groups in Afghanistan in 2016.
However, the tactics of the Taliban appear to be evolving somewhat from previous years, stated the report.
While the number of battle-related deaths in 2015 and 2016 increased by five per cent to 18,000, the opposite occurred with terrorism related deaths which dropped by 23 percent in 2016.
The report stated that this trend reflects the move by the Taliban to engage in more traditional conflict tactics against the Afghan security forces and focus instead on territorial gains rather than terrorist activities.
As of April 2017, the Taliban had control of over 11 per cent of the country and contested another 29 percent of Afghanistan’s 398 districts.
"Terrorist attacks, in the context of an ongoing armed conflict, can serve a range of purposes. Attacks which focus on government, military and police targets aim to discourage support for the Afghan government, dissuade people from joining government organizations and dishearten members of the police and the Afghan National Guard (security forces). Conversely, attacks on civilians aim to illustrate that the government is unable to provide security," the report reads.
The report states that in 2016, the worst attack was against Hazara protestors in Afghanistan's capital Kabul. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up among a huge crowd killing at least 83 protestors.
The report also notes that the Taliban operatives are now committing fewer attacks on their traditional targets.
There were 38 percent fewer attacks on government, 41 percent fewer attacks on police and 20 percent fewer attacks against security forces. However, attacks on these targets still accounted for just over half of all attacks.
Although the overall number of deaths from terrorism is down, the Taliban has engaged in more attacks that specifically target civilians, the report stated.
In 2016, there were 252 attacks against civilians that killed 1,217 people. This is an increase of 16 percent and resulted in a 24 percent increase in deaths against the previous year. Over half of the deaths from these attacks resulted from armed assaults while bombings accounted for a quarter of all deaths. The remaining fatal attacks resulted from kidnappings and assassinations.
Nearly a third of attacks targeting civilians occurred in the four northern provinces; Baghlan, Faryab, Samangan and Sar-e-Pul. Deaths from terrorism doubled in these provinces from the previous year.
The report concludes that Daesh continued to be active in Afghanistan in 2016. The group undertook 51 attacks that killed 505 people. This is a significant escalation from 2015 when 120 people were killed by the group. The report stated this was a trend that is likely to continue as more former members of Tehrik-e Taliban (TPP) join the chapter.
The report states that globally, the downward trend in the number of terrorism deaths has been driven by significant declines in four of the five countries most impacted by terrorism. Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria all recorded 33 percent fewer deaths.
"The largest reduction occurred in Nigeria where deaths attributed to Boko Haram decreased by 80 percent in 2016. This decline has been in direct response to the mounting pressure faced by the group from the Multinational Joint Task Force. This military intervention is also having a positive ripple effect on neighboring countries with Cameroon, Chad and Niger collectively recording 75 percent fewer terrorism deaths," says the report.
The report was released however at a time that Daesh in Afghanistan has significantly increased attacks – particularly on mosques and other civilian targets.
The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit thinktank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progressive achieves its goals by developing new conceptual frameworks to define peacefulness; providing metrics for measuring peace; and uncovering the relationships between business, peace and prosperity.