In March, over 50 countries were targeted by extremist groups, or made efforts to counter them, the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics' (CRG) Global Extremism Monitor has found.
In the first three months of 2016, religious extremist violence affected every inhabited continent in the world. This problem is global. That is why, month by month, the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics (CRG) tracks extremism and the fight against it.
In March alone, 57 countries were either targeted by extremist groups, or made efforts to counter them. Extremist violence killed at least 1,487 people in the month, according to our data. Sub-Saharan Africa, where only three groups launched attacks, suffered over a third of fatalities.
On 6 March, an ISIS truck blast in Baghdad killed more than 60. On 13 March, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) gunmen killed 16 at a beach in Côte d'Ivoire. On 22 March, triple suicide bombings claimed by ISIS in Brussels killed 35, including three bombers. On 27 March, a bomb exploded at a park in Lahore, Pakistan, killing 72 people. Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, the perpetrator, said the target was Christians celebrating Easter.
Since January, the Global Extremism Monitor has recorded nearly 10,000 deaths, either at the hands of extremists or in counter-extremism efforts. In March, at least 576 civilians and 551 members of the security forces were killed. Meanwhile, 2,067 extremists lost their lives. There were a total of 3,385 fatalities globally. Many died as a result of infighting between extremist groups; 150 Taliban militants were killed in early March in clashes between factions.
A strong trend throughout the first quarter of 2016 has been ISIS' dominance over al-Qaeda. In March, ISIS-affiliated groups killed twice as many people as al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda's affiliate in East Africa, has been the exception to the trend, repeatedly featuring as the most violent al-Qaeda-linked group. In the first three months of 2016, al-Shabaab killed at least 562 people in 121 incidents. In March alone, al-Shabaab was the second most violent group in the world. At least 270 people died in incidents instigated by the group.
In March, our data showed:
With only three active extremist groups, sub-Saharan Africa suffered a third of global deaths
Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin, and AQIM caused at least 430 deaths in March. However, the region also saw the most military counter-extremist activity, 48 per cent of the global total. This was reflected by extremist fatalities in the region. At 996, this was nearly half of the global total of extremist deaths in the month. Meanwhile, in Nigeria the army claimed to have rescued 1,554 hostages from Boko Haram.
High-casualty attacks make headlines, but frequent low-casualty attacks cause many more deaths
The 10 deadliest attacks across the world in March killed 641 people in total. But this only accounted for 43 per cent of deaths from violent extremism around the world.
While extremist groups often seek publicity through 'spectacular' attacks, and would kill and maim many more if they could, the majority of deaths in March were caused by multiple low-casualty assaults.
Our findings are a conservative estimate, based on open source data in English. CRG's analysts were careful only to include incidents they were sure counted as religious extremism. The Monitor also records civil society efforts to fight extremism.
Read the full report of our Global Extremism Monitor findings for March 2016.