Bangladesh last year had 70 percent less deaths in terrorist attacks than the previous year, says a new global study.
Bangladesh is the most successful South Asian country in countering terrorism, it said.
The country was ranked 31 last year, while it was 25th the year before, according to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index published recently.
“Bangladesh had the largest improvement of any country in South Asia. It recorded 31 terrorist attacks and seven fatalities in 2018, a 70 percent reduction in deaths from the prior year,” the index published by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) showed.
The report mentioned that five of the eight terrorist organisations that perpetrated the attacks in 2017 recorded no incidents in 2018, including the Islamic State in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh law enforcers deny the existence of IS in Bangladesh.
Afghanistan ranked the top position while Pakistan and India ranked five and seven respectively out of 138 countries, the report said.
It also mentioned that six out of seven South Asian countries improved on the 2018 Global Terrorist Index, with Bangladesh recording the largest improvement, followed by Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, India, and Bhutan.
“The situation is improving day by day due to the multifaced approaches to counter violence extremism. People are now more aware and we are also very active. The government’s zero tolerance policy against terrorism helps contain the situation,” Monirul Islam, chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Afghanistan is the only country in the region to have dropped from the 2018 index, recording more attacks than the rest of the region combined.
The report said fatalities from terrorism in Afghanistan increased by 59 percent last year, from just over 4,650 to nearly 7,400. Taliban was allegedly responsible for at least 971 attacks that killed 6,100 people. At the start of 2018. The Taliban was active in 70 percent of Afghanistan’s territory, it said.
Prof Imtiaz Ahmed, a teacher of Dhaka University’s international relations, said the situation in Bangladesh was relatively good, but there was no reason to be complacent as one bad incident could take the country backwards.
He said the reasons for the improvement were: people were now more aware, the government had taken zero tolerance approach towards curbing terrorism, law enforcement agencies were more active and better equipped than before, and the media had also given good attention to the issue.
The report said the number of global deaths from terrorism fell 15.2 percent in 2018, even as the number of countries affected by extremist violence continued to grow.
In Europe, where no major terror attack was recorded in 2018, the number of deaths fell from over 200 in 2017 to 62 in 2018.
But incidents of far-right terrorism have been increasing in the West, particularly in Western Europe, North America, and Oceania.
The report said the total number of incidents have increased by 320 percent over the past five years.
Deaths have been increasing year on year for the last three years, from 11 deaths in 2017, 26 deaths in 2018, to 77 deaths by the end of September 2019.
“However, far-right terrorism remains a small fraction of total terrorism worldwide. Even in the West, historically nationalist or separatist, Islamist, and far left terrorism has been much more common,” the report said.
It said the global economic impact of terrorism was $33 billion in 2018, 38 percent lower than in 2017.