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Will Pakistan see more school attacks?

Updated May 12, 2016 01:45pm

What types of weapons have been used in terror attacks on educational institutions across the globe? Which region has seen the most violence?

Most importantly, are such attacks likely to increase?

The answer to that last question is sadly, yes. Terrorist attacks on places of learning around the world have risen to alarming levels; higher than any point in more than 40 years. It’s a global phenomenon that is increasing at an exponential rate.

The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) at the University of Maryland is an open-source database on terrorist events around the world. From the database, covering 1970 to 2014, I extracted data on terror attacks on educational institutions to study the patterns of such terrorism.

Mapping data that records attacks on educational institutions shows concerning trends.

Looking specifically at Pakistan, the rate at which attacks increased in the run-up to the Army Public School massacre was alarming. Therefore, an attack like that on the APS seemed likely. While most of the attacks prior to APS were not lethal, both the frequency and the damage they caused was on an unprecedented rise.

The charts below provide a visual guide for attacks in Pakistan, and the rest of the world.


Pakistan has the highest number of people killed by country (450) in school attacks attributed, in part, to the APS carnage. Russia follows behind with 361 killed. The high number can be attributed to the Beslan school siege in 2004 which claimed over 300 lives.

Pakistan has the highest number of attacks (850) on places of learning by country. However, unlike the APS massacre, most of these attacks were not lethal.

South Asia has seen the most number of attacks on educational institutions since 1970, with bombings and explosions alone claiming 951 lives.

Oceania has seen the least number of attacks on educational institutions. Strict gun regulation laws that outlaw firearms may be responsible for this low figure.

In South Asia, there have been a total of 1,436 attacks on educational institutions.

The second lead is taken by Middle East with 636 attacks on places of learning.

Bombings and explosions have killed 4353.2 people worldwide.

Bombs and explosions cause significantly more injuries than fatalities when compared to armed assault, which is considered the most lethal form of attack.

Bombs and explosives are the most common method of carrying out attacks, followed by firearms.

Together, explosives and firearms are responsible for 75pc of terrorist attacks on educational institutions.

Tuesday has seen the highest number of school attacks. While an interesting fact, this has no real bearing on when an attack may take place.

The month of October has seen the highest number of attacks on educational institutions. As above, this has no real bearing on when an attack may take place.

Pakistan takes the lead in violence in urban centres, with sixteen cities on the table: Peshawar, Mohmand district, Bajaur district, Safi, Bara, Karachi, Quetta, Bannu, Landi Kotal, Charsadda, Orakzai district, Kabal, Shabqadar, Jamrud, Darra Adam Khel and Khyber district. Among these, Peshawar has seen the highest number of attacks (62).

Guatemala, with its long history of civil war, has seen 80 attacks in Guatemala city. Baghdad and Limu follow closely behind.

Across the past four decades, South Asia has experienced 1,436 attacks on education, out of which 60pc took place in Pakistan. This raises serious concerns about the safety of educational institutions in Pakistan, which seems to be at the epicentre of a horrifying trend.


Rana Muhammad Usman is an aspiring data scientist, who likes to write about social issues. He tweets @rana_usman and works with PredictifyMe. He can be reached at usmanashrafrana@gmail.com

2011-15: Attacks on educational institutions in Pakistan