Death toll due to terrorism up 650 per cent in OECD countries in 2015 even as global casualties fell: Report

People carry a coffin during a funeral for victims of an attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border on Aug 21, 2016.
People carry a coffin during a funeral for victims of an attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border on Aug 21, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Deaths from terrorism in OECD countries increased by 650 per cent last year despite a marked fall globally as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Boko Haram militants suffered military defeats at home but committed more attacks abroad, a report said on Wednesday (Nov 16).

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) said worldwide there had been 29,376 deaths caused by terrorism in 2015, a drop of 10 per cent and the first fall in four years, as action against Islamist militants ISIS in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria cut the numbers killed there by a third.

However, the report said the groups had spread their actions to neighbouring states and regions, causing a huge increase in fatalities among OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) members, most of which are wealthy countries such as the United States and European nations.

It said 21 of the 34 OECD member countries had witnessed at least one attack, with most deaths occurring in Turkey and France, where coordinated attacks by ISIS gunmen and suicide bombers at the Bataclan music venue, a soccer stadium and several cafes in Paris last November killed 130 people.

Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and Turkey all suffered their worst death tolls from terrorism in a single year since 2000, according to the index, which is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) think-tank.

In total, 23 countries registered their highest-ever number of terrorism deaths.

"While on the one hand the reduction in deaths is positive, the continued intensification of terrorism in some countries and its spread to new ones is a cause for serious concern and underscores the fluid nature of modern terrorist activity," said Mr Steve Killelea, the IEP's executive chairman. "The attacks in the heartland of western democracies underscore the need for fast-paced and tailored responses to the evolution of these organisations."

The annual index ranks countries based on data from the Global Terrorism Database run by a consortium based at the US University of Maryland.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, which accounted for 72 per cent of all deaths, were the top five ranked countries in the GTI.

The United States ranked 36th, with France 29th, Russia 30th and the United Kingdom 34th.

The global economic impact of terrorism was assessed to be US$89.6 billion (S$126.74 billion), with Iraq suffering the greatest impact, at 17 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

ISIS was the deadliest group in 2015, the report said, overtaking Boko Haram with attacks in 252 cities that led to 6,141 deaths.

However, Boko Haram's move into neighbouring countries Niger, Cameroon and Chad saw the number of fatalities in these countries increase by 157 per cent.