Why no place is safe from terrorists

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 12, 2015 05:39 hrs

Terrorist attacks were a rarity once upon a time. They started gaining in number as the twentieth century drew to a close. After 9/11, people have simply lost track of the hundreds of terrorist attacks that have taken place all over the world.

In the past few decades, their deadly footprints have been seen on almost every place on Earth…

The aeroplane:
A great number of hijackings have taken place by now. The most spectacular is 9/11 where a total of four planes were hijacked in a single morning. India had the Kandahar crisis of 1999. A bomb was placed on Air India Kanishka in 1985 that led to the loss of 329 lives.



Concepts like the shoe bomb have added extra fear to air travelling.

The airport:
In 2007 there was an attack on Glasgow International Airport and there was one in Jinnah International Airport in Karachi in 2014. Once there were simultaneous attacks on Rome and Vienna airports on a single day on December 27, 1985 by the PLO.

The office: For the people working in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 it was their daily office as it was for the cartoonists and journalists working at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They were just going about their lives when the attacks happened.

The school: The Taliban had been regularly attacking schools in Afghanistan-Pakistan. In September 2011 the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan ambushed a school bus in Matani killing 4 boys and injuring 7 girls. They also targeted Malala Yousafzai, who fought against them and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2013 the Boko Haram attacked a school in Nigeria killing 42 while the Peshawar attack by the TTP left 145 dead.

The college:
The Aleppo University bombings in Syria in 2013 saw the death of 82; the attack on Sardar Bahadur Khan Women's University in Quetta in the same year had a toll of 14 and Boko Haram attacked the Nigerian Federal Government College in Yobe in 2014 that left 59 dead.

The place of worship: Boko Haram has attacked churches with great regularity while many Sunni groups have attacked Shia mosques in countries like Iraq and Pakistan. Shias returning after a pilgrimage have also not been spared. In some cases there has been retaliation directed at Sunni mosques. Al-Qaeda in 2002 attacked a synagogue in Tunisia.

India saw the Akshardham Temple attack in 2002 and the Hazratbal shrine siege in 1993. Of course the most high-profile was that involving the Golden Temple in Amritsar and that saw Operation Bluestar in 1984 along with Operation Black Thunder I (in 1986) and II (in 1988). In 2013 we had the Bodh Gaya blasts in Bihar.

The military installation: In 2000, the Al-Qaeda targeted the destroyer USS Cole off the Yemeni port Aden. The Bemina CRPF camp was attacked in Jammu & Kashmir in 2013. In all the places where there is a conflict, terrorists are not shy of attacking military convoys or bases.

The 5-star hotel:
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was under siege during India's 26/11. Terrorists also targeted the Oberoi Trident at that time. The Marriott in Islamabad was bombed in 2008.

The train: Naxalites target trains regularly in India and terror groups do the same in Pakistan. 2004 saw the Madrid train bombings while 2005 saw the London tube bombings. During 26/11, attackers had gone to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

The road/roadside: Thanks to the huge number of car and truck bombs even the roads and roadside establishments are not safe. It had become routine in places like Israel while we had the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.Former Pakistani Prime Minister died when a suicide bomber went off next to her vehicle. Cycle bombs and even donkey bombs have been used by terrorists.

The mall: In 2013, Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall was under attack by an Islamist group al-Shabaab. 71 died including 3 from India.

The court: The Delhi High Court was targeted in 2011. Suicide bombers stormed a court in Afghanistan that left 55 dead.

Post script

Whether it's a Sydney Cafe, an embassy, a Pakistani graveyard, a prison, a sports field, a hospital (during 26/11) no place is safe. The Boko Haram has even kidnapped people straight out of their homes!

This is a highly incomplete list and the amount of terror attacks that this world is seeing is alarmingly tragic.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.