Afghanistan remains the country most impacted by terrorism for the fourth consecutive year, despite attacks and deaths falling by 75 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively, says Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2023.

The report also said Sahel region in sub-Saharan Africa is now the epicentre of terrorism, with the Sahel accounting for more terrorism deaths in 2022 than both South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) combined.

“Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the largest increase in terrorism deaths, rising by eight per cent,” it said.

The GTI report, however, states that the Index does not include acts of state repression and violence by state actors.

As such, acts committed by the Taliban are no longer included in the report’s scope since they took control of the country.

The report said, “Afghanistan’s drop can largely be attributed to the Taliban taking control of the country after the fall of Kabul in August 2021. As the Taliban are now the state actor in much of Afghanistan, their attacks fall outside the scope of the GTI’s definition of terrorism.”

The report said the increase in terrorism in the Sahel has been rising by over 2,000 percent in the last 15 years.

The political situation in the Sahel compounds this increase, with six coup attempts since 2021, of which four were successful.

“Deaths in the Sahel constituted 43 per cent of the global total in 2022, compared to just one per cent in 2007. Of particular concern are two countries, Burkina Faso and Mali, which accounted for 73 per cent of terrorism deaths in the Sahel in 2022 and 52 per cent of all deaths from terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa. Both countries recorded substantial increases in terrorism, with deaths in Burkina Faso increasing by 50 per cent to 1,135 and in Mali by 56 per cent to 944.

“Attacks in these countries are also becoming more deadly, with the number of people killed per attack increasing by 48 per cent from 2021. Most attacks in these countries are attributed to unknown jihadists though both IS and JNIM operate in these countries.

“The escalation in violence in Burkina Faso has also spread to neighbouring countries, with Togo and Benin recording their worst GTI scores on record.”

It said the underlying drivers of terrorism are complex and systemic including poor water utilisation, lack of food, ethnic polarisation, strong population growth, external interventions, geopolitical competition, pastoral conflict, the growth of transnational Salafi-Islam ideology and weak governments.

“Most of the terrorist activity occurs along borders where government control is weakest,” the report said.

Significantly, of the 830 million people facing food insecurity globally, 58 per cent live in the 20 countries most affected by terrorism.

Adding to the complexity, many criminal organisations increasingly represent themselves as Islamic insurgents, which partly accounts for attacks attributed to unknown jihadists.

The report shows that Nigeria is the number eight most terrorised countries worldwide,

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the largest increase in terrorism deaths, rising by eight per cent. Sixty per cent, or 4,023, of all terrorism deaths globally occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. Four of the ten countries with the largest deteriorations in GTI score are located in sub-Saharan Africa: Togo, Djibouti, Central African Republic and Benin. Terrorism deaths in sub–Saharan Africa increased by eight per cent, reversing the small improvement recorded in 2021.