The Philippines emerged as the ninth—and the only Southeast Asian—country most affected by extremist violence in 2018, up by one notch in the 2019 Global Terrorism Index.
The index, published by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics & Peace, defined terrorism as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”
The Philippines, with a “high” score of 7.137, posted 424 terror-related attacks, down from 486 in 2017 resulting in 297 deaths.
“Terrorist activity in the Philippines was dominated by the communist New People’s Army. The NPA was responsible over 36 percent of deaths and 39 percent of terror-related incidents, at 107 and 179
respectively,” the report showed.
“The NPA has engaged in an insurgency against the Filipino government for five decades and has been the Philippines’ deadliest terror group, causing 2,387 deaths since 1970,” it added.
IEP recorded NPA attacks across 39 provinces last year, with most casualties in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.
The second deadliest terror group in the Philippines, the report said, was the Mindanao-based separatist organization Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF or the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement) followed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as IS) which has affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf, the BIFF and the Maute Group.
“Both ISIL and ASG claimed responsibility for the only suicide bombing of 2018 that killed 12 people. This was the first recorded suicide bombing by ISIL in the Philippines, highlighting the spread of ISIL’s tactics in the region,” IEP said in its report.
Afghanistan, where the Taliban succeeded IS as the world’s deadliest terror group, topped the index with 1,443 attacks, killing 7,379 people, followed by Iraq with 1,131 attacks that left 1,054 dead,
Nigeria with 562 attacks that killed 2,040 people, and Syria, which counted 131 incidents that claimed 662 lives.
Rounding up the top 10 countries most impacted by terrorism are Pakistan, Somalia, India, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The number of global deaths from terrorism fell 15.2 percent in 2018 even as the number of countries affected by extremist violence continued to grow.
From a high of 33,555 deaths in 2014, when the Islamic State group lured tens of thousands of jihadists to the Middle East, the number of terrorism deaths has more than halved to 15,952 in 2018, the index showed.
The largest declines in 2018 were recorded in Iraq, which proclaimed a military victory over IS the previous year, and Somalia, where US forces have been conducting airstrikes against Shabaab extremists since 2017.
For the first time since 2003, Iraq was not the country worst-hit by terrorism.
The report also noted that while “the intensity of terrorism has declined...terrorism is still widespread and increasing.”
In 2018, 71 countries suffered at least one terrorism-related death, the second-highest number since the beginning of the century. With AFP