Deaths from terrorism increased by 22% to 8,352 deaths in 2023 and are now at their highest level since 2017.

The eleventh edition of the Global Terrorism Index reveals that terrorism is becoming more concentrated with the number of countries recording a death from terrorism falling to 41, considerably lower than the peak of 57 countries recorded in 2015 and the 44 countries in 2022.

Burkina Faso has become the country most impacted by terrorism – the first time a nation other than Afghanistan or Iraq topped the Global Terrorism Index (GTI). 

Almost 2,000 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso from 258 incidents, accounting for nearly a quarter of all terrorist deaths globally, according to the GTI, which provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism and is produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). 

The impact of terrorism in Burkina Faso has increased every year since 2014, with terrorism also surging in its neighbours, Mali and Niger. In Burkina Faso in 2023, deaths from terrorism were up 68 per cent. 

Overall in 2023, deaths from terrorism increased by 22 per cent to 8,352 deaths and are now at their highest level since 2017, although they remain 23 per cent lower than at their peak in 2015. Excluding the October 7th Hamas attack in the Middle East, deaths would have still been up by five per cent.  

The 10 countries impacted by terrorism: 


Burkina Faso

The West African nation became the country with the highest impact from terrorism for the first time, with deaths from terrorism increasing by 68 per cent to 1,907, even though attacks decreased by 17 per cent. A quarter of all terrorism deaths occurring globally were in Burkina Faso, which is bound to the north and west by Mali, to the south by Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo, and to the east by Benin and Niger. 


Israel had the largest increase in terrorism deaths, increasing from 24 to 1,210 deaths. Israel rose 24 ranks on the GTI from 2022-2023 to 2nd, the largest change in rank out of the countries in the top ten. The attack in Israel by Hamas was the single largest terrorist attack since the inception of the GTI, the biggest since 9/11 and one of the largest terrorist attacks in history.


Mali was home to the eighth deadliest terrorist attack of the year, which occurred in the Gao region of Mali, when Fighters of Islamic State (IS) and Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) clashed near Tin Fadimata village, Gao cercle, Gao region on the night of March 1st. There was no information on the number of casualties and on who started the fighting, but JNIM claimed to have killed at least 60 IS fighters. The conflict-torn West African nation could face further destabilisation after Mali’s junta ended a 2015 peace deal with Tuareg separatist rebels in January 2024. Tensions between the central authorities and the northern separatists have resurfaced since the military consolidated power in two coups in 2020 and 2021, teamed up with Russian military contractor Wagner Group, and removed French forces and UN peacekeepers.


Pakistan had the fourth deadliest terrorist attack of the year which occurred in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, when a suicide bomber killed at least 84 people and wounded at least 200 others at the Police Lines Mosque, Peshawar, Peshawar district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the early afternoon of January 30th. Several hundred police officers were reportedly at the scene when the bomb exploded. No group had claimed the attack at the time of writing, but based on the target and location, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was probably responsible.


The 3rd deadliest terrorist attack of the year occurred in the Homs region of Syria, where several explosive-laden drones killed possibly as many as 100 soldiers and civilians and wounded at least 240 others in an attack on a military college graduation ceremony at the Homs Military Academy, Homs, Homs Governorate on October 5th No group had claimed responsibility at the time of writing, but jihadists and anti-regime groups operate in the area.


This is the first time since 2018 that Afghanistan was not the country most impacted by terrorism, and the first time it was not ranked in the five most impacted countries since the inception of the index. Terrorism in Afghanistan has fallen significantly over the past year. It is no longer the country most impacted by terrorism, a position it had held since 2018, and is ranked outside the five most impacted countries for the first time since the inception of the index. Afghanistan recorded 119 deaths from terrorism in 2023, a fall of 81 per cent compared to the previous year.


While still being ranked in the top 10, Somalia recorded a fall in the impact of terrorism. There were 434 deaths and 193 incidents in 2023, a fall of 43 per cent and 37 per cent respectively compared to the previous year. This reduction marked the second-largest global decrease in deaths and Somalia’s lowest death toll since 2015, largely due to reduced activity from terrorist group Al-Shabaab.


Africa’s most populous country (210 million people) recorded its first increase in terrorism in three years, with total deaths rising by 34 per cent to 524. This year marks Nigeria’s highest death toll since 2020, driven by a surge in conflict between ISWA and Boko Haram. If the conflict between these two groups was excluded, terrorism deaths would have declined by 18 per cent.


Terror attacks in Myanmar occurred in the context of ongoing civil conflict following the February 2021 military coup and subsequent rebellion by ethnic armed groups and pro democracy supporters. Terrorist attacks in Myanmar fell for the first time since 2020, from 851 attacks in 2022 to 444 attacks in 2023. This is a decline of almost 50 per cent, with attacks now at their lowest level since the military coup of 2021.


Terrorism in Niger experienced a surge in 2023 after a decline in 2022. The number of terrorist attacks increased to 61 in 2023, up from 54 in the previous year. Deaths more than doubled, with 468 deaths in 2023 compared to 193 deaths in 2022, indicating a significant escalation in the lethality of attacks. Military personnel accounted for 73 per cent of these casualties, resulting in Niger becoming the country with the third-highest military death toll in 2023. Niger’s deadliest attack of 2023 occurred when gunmen killed at least 200 soldiers in an ambush on four military columns in Tillabéri in November. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, however local media outlets reported that the attack was a joint operation by IS and JNIM.


Global Terrorism Index

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) is produced by the leading international think tank the Institute of Economics & Peace (IEP) and has been published annually for the last eleven years. It is the most comprehensive resource on global terrorism trends and uses multiple factors to calculate its score, including the number of incidences, fatalities, injuries and hostages, and combines it with conflict and socio-economic data to provide a holistic picture of terrorism.

Download the full report: 2024 Global Terrorism Index



Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.