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Pakistan sees highest number of suicide attacks this year since 2014

In the year 2023, Pakistan experienced a disturbing surge in suicide attacks, reaching the highest level since 2014, according to data by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS).

According to PICSS data, a staggering 29 suicide attacks were reported in 2023, resulting in the tragic loss of 329 lives and leaving 582 individuals injured so far. This marks the highest death toll since 2013 when 683 people lost their lives in 47 suicide bombings.

As compared to the preceding year, 2022, the report shows a distressing 93% increase in the number of suicide attacks, a 226% rise in resultant deaths, and a 101% surge in the number of injured individuals.

The data shows that there were 623 militant attacks in 2023, as compared to 380 such attacks in 2022. Among total attacks in 2023, 29 were suicide attacks; whereas in 2022, 15 were suicide attacks.

Furthermore, the share of suicide attacks in the total number of attacks escalated from 3.9% in 2022 to 4.7% in 2023, underscoring the severity of the situation. The share was only 1.4% in 2021 and 2.1% in 2020. The highest share of suicide attacks among total militant attacks was reported in 2018 with 18 attacks among the 229 total militant attacks.

As per regional comparisons, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bore the brunt of these attacks, reporting 23 instances that resulted in 254 fatalities and 512 injuries. Within KP, newly merged districts (NMD) experienced 13 suicide attacks, leading to 85 deaths and 206 injuries. Balochistan faced five attacks, causing 67 deaths and 52 injuries, while Sindh witnessed one suicide attack resulting in eight deaths and 18 injuries.

The data further reveals that security forces were the primary targets of these attacks, with civilians constituting the second-largest victim category. A visual representation in the form of pie charts illustrates that 48% of deaths (157) and 58% of injuries (340) were inflicted upon security personnel. The number of civilian casualties was close to these statistics with 130 deaths and 242 injured.

Examining the historical trajectory, PICSS’s militancy database indicates a notable decline in suicide attacks from 30 in 2014 to a mere three in 2019. Contrary to the earlier statement, there was no significant surge in 2020 and 2021, as both years witnessed only four attacks each.

The year 2022 witnessed a sudden and significant surge, recording 15 attacks resulting in 101 deaths and 290 injuries. This worrisome trend persisted into 2023, reaching a new high with 29 reported suicide attacks.

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