The attacks can happen anywhere: In a holiday market outside a historic church in Berlin, on the street during a national holiday in France, in an airplane over Scotland or during the first day of school in a small town in Russia.

[French police come under fire in Paris; three reported shot]

 Sometimes, a plot fails – a detonator malfunctions or authorities make an arrest – and no one is injured.

Other times, an attack leaves a trail of death and destruction that can shake a nation, even a continent. But these incidents are nothing new.

July 2014

Sept. 2004

Europe

415

359

400 deaths

per month

Sept. 1999

Dec.

1988

293

277

300

200

100

0

1970

’80

’90

2000

’10

’16

July 2014

415

Europe

Sept. 2004

400 deaths per month

359

Sept. 1999

Dec. 1988

293

277

300

200

200

100

100

0

0

1970

1970

1980

1980

1990

1990

2000

2000

2010

2010

2016

2016

July 2014

415

Europe

Sept. 2004

400 deaths per month

359

Sept. 1999

Dec. 1988

293

277

300

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

Terrorism in Europe has killed 11,288 people in 18,811 attacks since January 1970, according to the University of Maryland National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism’s Global Terrorism Database, which tracks more than 170,000 foreign and domestic incidents worldwide.

In 2016, the number of deadly attacks across the continent continued to decrease. Despite fewer attacks, they were still deadly, killing more than 300 people in total.

Attacks in 2004 killed the most people, according to the university, with more than 800 deaths that year.

Attacks with at least one death

One fatal attack

One fatal attack

EST.

NOR.

SWE.

LAT.

RUSSIA

DEN.

LITH.

UNITED

KINGDOM

RUS.

BELARUS

IRE.

POLAND

GER.

UKRAINE

CZR.

SLVK.

250 MILES

AUS.

HUN.

FRANCE

ROMANIA

Crimea

(Disputed)

IRAN

BULG.

ITALY

TURKEY

POR.

GREECE

SPAIN

SYRIA

IRAQ

CYPRUS

MOR.

ALGERIA

TUN.

One fatal attack

NORWAY

EST.

Oslo

SWEDEN

Moscow

LAT.

KAZAKHSTAN

RUSSIA

LITH.

DEN.

UNITED

KINGDOM

RUS.

IRE.

BELARUS

Dublin

Warsaw

Berlin

NETH.

Kiev

London

POLAND

UKRAINE

GERMANY

BELG.

CZECH REP.

250 MILES

SLVK.

MOL.

Paris

AZER.

AUS.

GEORGIA

Crimea

(Disputed)

HUN.

ROMANIA

FRANCE

SWITZ.

Bucharest

IRAN

BULG.

ITALY

TURKEY

Madrid

POR.

Rome

GREECE

SPAIN

SYRIA

IRAQ

Athens

CYPRUS

TUN.

ALGERIA

MOR.

The frequency and deadliness of terrorist attacks have shifted from western to eastern Europe.

Western Europe

Attacks with at least one death

Eastern Europe

Attacks with at least one death

From the 1970s to the early ‘90s, attacks from separatist and extremist groups rippled in western countries, such as Northern Ireland and Spain.

By the mid ‘90s, the number of deadly attacks in the region fell. That wasn’t the case in the eastern region.

In the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, terrorist groups formed in the ensuing conflicts throughout the former Soviet republics, with some receiving support from foreign extremist groups, including al-Qaeda.

In recent years, the conflict in eastern Ukraine have led to a spike in terrorist attacks in eastern Europe.

Bombings have been the most common method used in fatal terrorist attacks since the 1970s.

Types of attacks

Bombing

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

Assassination

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

Assault

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

Building attack

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

Hostage situation

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

Hijacking

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

Types of attacks

Assassination

Assault

Bombing

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

1970

2016

1970

2016

Building attack

Hostage situation

Hijacking

500 attacks per month

400

300

200

100

0

1970

2016

1970

2016

1970

2016

Among the confirmed explosive devices in these attacks, terrorists used vehicles in nearly 200 deadly attacks since the ‘70s.

Russia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain and France are among the countries with the highest number of deaths from terrorism, according to the database.

Russia

Terrorism in a post-Cold War era

Attacks with at least one death, 1992-2016

500 MILES

St. Petersburg

Moscow

R U S S I A

Caucasus

region

China

mon.

St. Petersburg

Moscow

R U S S I A

Caucasus

region

China

kazakhstan

500 MILES

mongolia

3,860 deaths in 895 lethal attacks

Notable groups: Chechen rebels, Riyad-us Saliheen Brigade of Martyrs, Caucasus Emirate, Special Purpose Islamic Regiment, Islambouli Brigades of al-Qaeda

Sept. 4-16, 1999

Russian apartment bombings

Sept. 1-3, 2004

Beslan school seige

317

289

400 deaths per month

300

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

Sept. 1-3, 2004

Beslan school seige

317

400 deaths

per month

300

200

100

0

1970

’80

’90

2000

’10

’16

Sept. 4-16, 1999

Russian apartment bombings

289

Sept. 4-16, 1999

Russian apartment bombings

Sept. 1-3, 2004

Beslan school seige

289

317

400 deaths per month

300

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

More people died in terrorist attacks in Russia than any other country in Europe.

The country experienced one of Europe's deadliest attacks in September 2004 when members of the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs, an Islamist force of suicide attackers, took more than 1,000 people hostage during the first day of classes at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in the North Caucasus region.

More than 300 people died at the end of the three-day siege. About half of the victims were children, according to reports.

United Kingdom

From domestic to foreign extremism

Attacks with at least one death, 1970-2016

Northern

Ireland

Glasgow

IRELAND

Birmingham

U N I T E D

K I N G D OM

London

100 MILES

2,519 deaths in 1,622 lethal attacks

Notable groups: Provisional Irish Republican Army, Ulster Volunteer Force, Ulster Defence Association, Irish National Liberation Army

400 deaths per month

Dec. 21, 1988

Lockerbie bombing

270

300

July 7, 2005

London

bombings

53

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

Dec. 21, 1988

Lockerbie bombing

270

400 deaths

per month

300

200

100

0

1970

’80

’90

2000

’10

’16

July 7, 2005

London bombings

53

400 deaths per month

Dec. 21, 1988

Lockerbie bombing

270

300

July 7, 2005

London bombings

200

53

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

Much of the terrorism-related deaths in the United Kingdom during the late 20th century came from attacks orchestrated by pro-Irish and pro-English extremist groups, notably the Irish Republican Army and Ulster Volunteer Force, in Northern Ireland.

These attacks occurred during The Troubles, a 30-year ethno-nationalist conflict between loyalists, a majority of which were Protestant who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom, and republicans, who were exclusively Catholic and fought to become part of Ireland.

While the IRA was the deadliest group to be active in the United Kingdom – responsible for more than 1,700 deaths – they were not responsible the country’s most devastating terrorist attack: the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

On Dec. 21, 1988, a bomb exploded inside Pan Am Flight 103 as the plane flew over Lockerbie, Scotland. The explosion killed 270 people. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, was convicted in 2001 for the attack. In October, Scottish prosecutors said they wanted to interview two Libyans who they suspect worked with al-Megrahi.

400 deaths per month

300

March 11, 2004

Madrid bombings

 

191

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

March 11, 2004

Madrid bombings

 

191

400 deaths per month

300

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

March 11, 2004

Madrid bombings

 

191

400 deaths

per month

300

200

100

0

1970

’80

’90

2000

’10

’16

Similar to the United Kingdom, terrorist attacks from the 1970s to the 2000s in Spain were from pro-national groups.

The most notable was the ETA, also known as Basque Fatherland and Freedom, a group that committed kidnappings, assassinations and bombings with a goal to make the Basque Country in Northern Spain independent. It disbanded in 2011.

In March 2004, a series of bombs on trains along the Cercanías railroad system in Madrid killed more than 190 people.

It was the country’s deadliest attack. Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, an Islamic group with ties to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility. 

Ukraine

A downed airplane and political unrest

Attacks with at least one death, 1991-2016

BELARUS

RUSSIA

POL.

Kiev

U K R A I N E

MOL.

Eastern Ukraine

Odessa

ROMANIA

RUS.

Crimea

(Disputed)

Simferopol

100 MILES

1,092 deaths in 202 lethal attacks

Notable groups: Donetsk People's Republic, Luhansk People's Republic, Right Sector, Pro-Russia Militia, Kharkiv Partisans

400 deaths per month

July 17, 2014

Malaysia Airline Flight 17

298

300

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

July 17, 2014

Malaysia Airline Flight 17

298

400 deaths per month

300

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

July 17, 2014

Malaysia Airline

Flight 17

298

400 deaths

per month

300

200

100

0

1970

’80

’90

2000

’10

’16

Ukraine saw more than 180 terrorist attacks that resulted in at least one death since 1992.

However, a majority of the country’s deaths – more than 800 – occurred in 2014 and 2015 during the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The attacks – those targeting civilians, businesses, the media and government officials without any wartime strategic value – have been attributed to the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics.

The deadliest attack occurred on July 17, 2014, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine. Nearly 300 crew members and passengers died.

In September, a Dutch-led investigation said the missile that brought down the plane originated in Russia and was fired from territory held by pro-Russian separatists.

Spain

A fight for independence and explosions in Madrid

Attacks with at least one death, 1970-2016

FRANCE

Basque

Country

Barcelona

POR.

Madrid

S P A I N

Seville

100 MILES

1,141 deaths in 655 lethal attacks

Notable groups: Basque Fatherland and Freedom (ETA), Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group, Hezbollah, Argentine Anticommunist Alliance

France

Two shootings and a devastated capital

Attacks with at least one death, 1972-2016

U.K.

Bel.

GERMANY

Paris

switz.

F R A N C E

ITALY

Bayonne

Nice

Marseille

Spain

Ajaccio

100 MILES

492 deaths in 165 lethal attacks

Notable groups: The Islamic State, Anti-Terrorist Liberation Group, Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, Corsican National Liberation Front

July 14, 2016

Nice attack

87

400 deaths per month

300

Nov. 13-14, 2015

Paris attacks

130

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

July 14, 2016

Nice attack

87

400 deaths per month

300

Nov. 13-14, 2015

Paris attacks

130

200

100

0

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

2016

July 14, 2016

Nice attack

87

400 deaths

per month

300

200

100

0

1970

’80

’90

2000

’10

’16

France’s deadliest year for terrorism-related deaths was 2015 with more than 140 deaths from two attacks in Paris.

In January 2015, three men who had ties with al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Islamic State shot and killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

Ten months later, the country saw its worst terrorist attack in history when members of the Islamic State coordinated a series of shootings and bombings across Paris that left about 130 people dead.

In July 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhel, a Tunisian national, drove a truck into a crowd on the Promenande des Anglais in Nice, killing more than 80 people and injuring hundreds more.

About this data

The data for this analysis comes from the University of Maryland National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism’s Global Terrorism Database, which tracks terrorist attacks worldwide since 1970. The university defines an attack 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.” Attacks calculated for this graphic were limited to those not classified by the university as wartime tactics. More information can be found here. Originally published: Dec. 19, 2016.

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