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Will Pakistan see more school attacks?

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

2011-15: Attacks on educational institutions in Pakistan

Comments (72) Closed

Sunil Dec 16, 2015 01:05pm

Terrorists can attack any place, specially crowded, where more damage can be done.

sijaz Dec 16, 2015 01:09pm

As a researcher I am disappointed in the way data has been extracted, presented, and anlysed.

Jawad Dec 16, 2015 01:16pm

Syria and Iraq have few attacks in schools while other countries skyrocketing

Salman Dec 16, 2015 01:22pm

Excellent article.... very well data presentation.... useful information.... Normally article just possess stories created by min of Journalist but such kind of articles reflects facts and true picture. Keep it up...

Dr. Azam Gill Dec 16, 2015 01:35pm

Excellent piece of edifying data analysis: thank you, Rana Jee.

Mahmood Dec 16, 2015 02:02pm

Very unsettling statistics. In this climate of uncertainty and insecurity it is a miracle that the country is even able to move along at all.

I pray the outlook gets brighter for the nation. And we can put this sad chapter of the rise of militancy behind us.

sridhar Dec 16, 2015 02:31pm

I am surprised to see that size of Geographical Area is not considered ???

Muhammad Usama Dec 16, 2015 02:33pm

Superb and Awesome Work Rana Muhammad Usman ! Very informative and unique article. Matter is worthy along with the dynamic graphs. Revealing the facts and figures about a horrible side of the world. Hope, the future will be better and happier with our collaboration.
Wonderful Usman ! Keep it up. :)

Muhammad Sohaib Dec 16, 2015 02:50pm

Very well analysed. Awesome and impressive work done rana usman. Keep up the good work :)

Umar Shuja Syed Dec 16, 2015 02:51pm

Excellent Work Really motivation for young Data Analyst and Keep surprising Us

Sreenivasarajiv Dec 16, 2015 03:02pm

Region wise data is useless. Compare it country wise, analyze the cause and Make decisions to eliminate them.

Ali Hashaam Dec 16, 2015 03:13pm

Amazing work Usman! All the time you spent on it was definitely worth it! Its one hell of analysis. I hope he concerned people will bring this analysis in consideration and do proper measures to make world a better place.

Asif Dec 16, 2015 03:22pm

@sijaz, no offence, but you didn't mentioned what is wrong with this analysis? Just curious, as I also am a student of data gathering and analysis?

Sahir Sumalani Dec 16, 2015 03:23pm

Informative, thnx Rana Sab.

Sohail Dec 16, 2015 03:40pm

Well researched article, I appreciate all the work that you have put into it. I think you are making a sad and alarming point here:"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".Proactive measures are needed to be taken. I am also impressed by how you have presented data visually which is understood by everybody. The power of data and the difference it can make is evident from your article. Great work!

Afroz Hussain Dec 16, 2015 04:06pm

Rana Usman, very well written article. Keep writing.

yawar Dec 16, 2015 04:32pm

A reasonably good quantitative research. Kudos to Mr. Rana

Cyrus Dec 16, 2015 04:38pm

@Mahmood ..... Life is just as uncertain as it always has been but we live it in greater comfort, and with better medical care for the sick than ever before.

Cyrus Dec 16, 2015 04:42pm

@Sohail ... Attacks on places of learning have increased because the ignorant (and there are millions more of them) want us all to be as stupid as they are.

Sarai Alamgir Dec 16, 2015 04:47pm

Would be nice to see the number of attacks in the last 12 months, there is alot of improvement.

Ali Dec 16, 2015 05:03pm

its sad how much Pakistan had been under attack :((( People still surviving. Working hard. proud of you

shazil Dec 16, 2015 05:05pm

@sijaz we all are disappointed in our insecurities and our way to criticize other peoples work without reasoning but hey that's just none of my business.

Sana Dec 16, 2015 05:20pm

well done Usman.

Ajmal Dec 16, 2015 05:25pm

Horrifying figures! Precisely put together. Very good analysis. Keep it up Usman. Impressed with your work already.

Divergence Dec 16, 2015 05:44pm

Kill all such sick minded people who are threatening the peace of this world

azhar mehmood Dec 16, 2015 05:46pm

Good work..

Saeed Masood Dec 16, 2015 06:06pm

The only way the Problems of Pakistan will be solved is National questions asked... Teach the children in schools about terror and terrorism...otherwise the inside and outside and other enemies will keep doing this...unfortunately all the friends of Pakistan have conditional friendship even the Muslim countries...except China...we should learn from China only and trust only China ...

Satyameva Jayate Dec 16, 2015 06:07pm

Well conceived and executed.

Secular Pathan Dec 16, 2015 09:43pm

I am very sorry to say but yes, we might see more such attacks unless and until we become a Kemalist Secular State like Turkey and reform our education/social/cultural traditions. We need to remove the compulsory subjects and deal with madressahs.

rana shazam Dec 16, 2015 10:28pm

Extremely well, you have drafted all the work in a tremendously organized manner.All the graphs are good and beautifully written. ALL the best for your future.RISE AND SHINE.

Muhammad Ashraf Dec 16, 2015 10:34pm

Well done ! very good article regarding the preparations of such incidents

Kashif Mehmood Dec 16, 2015 11:07pm

Very well summarised

Muslim Medina Dec 17, 2015 12:01am

With terrorist leaders roaming freely in Pakistan, attacks on school will surely increase.

AB Malik Dec 17, 2015 09:49am

Brilliant work, you are great Sir, Awesome research, Perfect Analysis. I am surprised such a talented person is still living in Pakistan. Well Done Bro. You are truly patriotic. Bunch of thanks to equip us with such a precious knowledge.

Zeeshan Usmani Dec 17, 2015 09:52am

Very good effort. Way to go

Adnan Khalid Dec 17, 2015 10:34am

Good work Usman

Rana Muhammad Usman Dec 17, 2015 11:25am

Thank you very much everyone.

Tariq Kashan Dec 17, 2015 11:37am

I'm astonished after reading all the replies. Was this article is just to have a read, reply and carry on? Appreciated the writer efforts and pulling legs of each other that was the data presented greatly or motivation for other data analysts'?

This article is a serious concerning for every Pakistan citizen which institute should they select for the children to get educated. Along with who is responsible for the inner security.

Don't read it for passing the time, get pain in your head and start thinking how to over come the menace of this to save all & every child of Pakistan, not only yours.

Dear Writer, I'm disappointed after reading this as what you are pushing in the minds of readers to get out of the situation by either accepting an abroad job with family sponsor or get residence abroad as soon as possible. I request you to write to motivate people to face and put their valuable contributions to eliminate this at-least from our beloved country Pakistan. Regards, Tariq Kashan

Hira Bashir Dec 17, 2015 11:51am

Refreshing to see such an accurate analysis. Great data by the way.

NASIR KHAN Dec 17, 2015 02:14pm

Thank you Sir Usman, Very informative and cooperative analysis

Mahar Husnain Dec 17, 2015 04:33pm

good analysis Rana Muhammad Usman specially graph is awesome. keep up the good work.

Myra Dec 17, 2015 06:09pm

informative and well written.Good job Usman!!!

maira Dec 17, 2015 06:09pm

@sijaz reason for disappointment???

Abdulla Hussain Jan 20, 2016 12:58pm

Seems we have not learnt any lesson from several previous attacks & arrests of terrorists. More work has to be done to form a formidable intelligence network

samrendra singh Jan 20, 2016 02:02pm

unless people stop giving excesses for terrorist attract it will happen, a terrorist can never be good or happy anywhere. any group which uses gun for justifying its moto must be condemned, selective condemnation is making world more n more dangerous place

Alam Jehangir Jan 20, 2016 02:27pm

Article is factual n good.

Imran ali Jan 20, 2016 02:29pm

mastered mind of APS was hanged by military court.It is security and intelligence failure.The head of intelligence,Pervez Khattack and Ch.Nisar should resign...

WOW Jan 20, 2016 02:47pm

My condolences with the bereaved family Frankly this data is not helpful.. Please get data for how many terrorist has been killed and by what time can Pakistan eliminate all the unwanted elements

Cyrus Jan 20, 2016 03:15pm

@Sreenivasarajiv .... Regional data is not useless. It has been used as a graphics tool in newspapers to inform the public for as long as I can remember. We see it in textbooks.

A Singh Jan 20, 2016 03:35pm

This is eye opener for the whole world and to make coordinated efforts to stamp out the menance of terorism from globe which has become worse than climate change etc. etc.

faryal Jan 20, 2016 03:47pm

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.

M.Saeed Jan 20, 2016 03:48pm

Why they terrorize? What gain they have in terrorizing? How can they be eliminated? The important question is, who created them and why?

Hassan Nasir Jan 20, 2016 03:57pm

You cannot eradicate this radical mindset that has evolved over decades. It requires a refined and sophisticated multi-tier operation, from religious seminaries to schools, from curriculum to extracurricular activities, from identifying and arresting hostile elements to escalating impartial judicial trials. The guns and operations come much later because they can silence the miscreants for a while only to resurface later. Yes, we will see more of such attacks unless there's a sociomoral cleansing.

Kabeer Jan 20, 2016 04:25pm

Modern education is like a poison for the extremist ideology therefore they will keep targeting schools and razed schools mean more opportunities of raising madrassahs to inculcate their toxic ideology in the mind of innocent pupils

Sahil Jan 20, 2016 04:31pm

@Secular Pathan Well Turkey is also facing the Terrorist attack

abe Jan 20, 2016 05:03pm

Glad to see none in India

M Jan 20, 2016 05:26pm

Pakistan must investigate all angles as there are number of enemies working by paying money to groups.

Kabeer Jan 20, 2016 06:14pm

@Sahil "Well Turkey is also facing the Terrorist attack" because Turkey has also chosen the wrong path by backing extremists in Syria

orange Jan 20, 2016 10:14pm

When a US President says Pakistan will see more turoil in decades to come, we should take it seriously.

Azmat Ali Jan 21, 2016 01:32am

Once someone can gather a minimum of 4 or 5 people, who are willing to die for their perceived causes, they can attack anywhere in Pakistan. Despite all our best efforts, we have been unable to profile such people across the country. This menace must be stopped where it originates i.e. those who brainwash, plan, provide justifications, sustenance, weapons and post-event financial support to the families of the militants. They are the true evil of our society. They themselves stay behind, their children are never sent to do the evil deeds, they are able to easily scope, identify and select such militants, while we cannot stop them. Truly depressing.

N.K Jan 21, 2016 03:52am

Just as Tariq kashan has commented, it is really troubling to see the comments. Should article be thought provoking and generating arguments about analysis aiming at countering such trends or applauding the writer or article. it seems just so base. The other comments are more emotional response even those deserve to be appreciated better as the focus on the issue. Unfortunately the article fails to lead to analysis in that direction

Omran Jan 21, 2016 04:19am

Someone need to stop Pakistan from getting into other people War, take the Example of Bangladesh, working slowly and quietly building their economy...

Omar Jan 21, 2016 09:03am

With TTP destroyed it was expected for them to now choose soft targets so its not as simple a 'yes' based on trend data without the context and situation of each region. Each region has its specific factors that dont overlap with the other in this data. While this is informative but the conclusion made based on just raw data is kind of hasty.

sm Jan 21, 2016 09:03am

@sijaz what exactly is your concern about the data presented?

Ron Mazliach Jan 22, 2016 03:04am

@abe ..Look carefully. There are 16 attacks in India. And in all of them dalits and christians have died. India is not perfect. It has other flaws like untouchability. Dalits are not allowed in schools there. Recently a dalit student has committed suicide in Hyderabad becasue he was harassed by upper cast people.

Ayyaz Jan 22, 2016 02:33pm

@sijaz No one is holding you back to access GTD and present your analysis

Ayyaz Jan 22, 2016 02:56pm

Aim of such attacks is to destroy the future of the country or at least, make it twisted as 70% of Pakistan's population is below 30 (quoting Nabeel Qadeer; also

zak Jan 23, 2016 12:59pm

In south asia only pakistan is suffering from terrorism, rest is peaceful.

Wiqas Jan 24, 2016 12:55pm

I think the root cause of all this is poor justice system and its not only in Pakistan but seems like the whole world is tilting towards "Might is Right" philosophy. When there is no justice, each individual try to define his/her own law.

Omar Naeem Feb 03, 2016 10:30am

Neatly presented article although horrific and disturbing

Ali Khan Feb 03, 2016 03:32pm

usman, THANKS FOR THE WAKEUP CALL! would you be able to narrow it by schools names andlocation for pakistani schools. THANKs

bala , usa Feb 05, 2016 11:37pm

no progress....

powerful weapon.