Evolving Patterns of Violence in Developing Countries

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In August 2022, MTI issued a report entitled Changing Patterns of Violence Pose New Challenges to Public Surface Transportation in the United States. That report analyzed the frequency and lethality of attacks on public surface transport in economically advanced countries. But what has been going on in non-economically advanced countries – the vast majority of countries in the world? Using the MTI database of Terrorist and Serious Criminal Attacks Against Public Surface Transportation, the authors analyzed attacks against passenger trains and train stations, buses and bus stations and stops, and all rail infrastructure and operating and security personnel in both sets of countries between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2022. For this analysis, countries that are economically advanced are based mostly on OCED membership are designated as Group 1, and those with developing economies and others that are not OECD members, are designated as Group 2. (Group 3 countries are Israel and territory controlled by the Palestinian authority, which MTI will address in a separate report). This report focuses on Group 2 countries, comparing them to Group 1 countries. Group 2 had more than 7 times the number of attacks, and the lethality of its attacks was 3 times greater than in Group 1. In Group 2, many countries have long-running insurgencies that produce frequent and lethal attacks. There are far more attacks on buses and bus depots and stops in Group 2, reflecting greater reliance on bus travel. Explosives dominate attack methods, and while jihadist attackers are responsible for only 9.7% of attacks, they create 33.7% of fatalities. Jihadists are the most lethal attackers in both Group 1 and Group 2 countries. Suicide attacks account for only about 3% of the attacks in both groups, but while that percentage has gone down in Group 1, it has gone up in Group 2.



Brian Michael Jenkins is the director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s Allied Telesis National Transportation Security Center and, since 1997, has directed the Institute’s continuing research on protecting surface transportation against terrorism and other serious forms of crime.


Bruce R. Butterworth is a Senior Transportation Security Researcher at MTI and former Director of Aviation Security Operations at the Federal Aviation Administration. Bruce has taken a leading role in creating MTI’s unique database of attacks on public surface transportation.


Sachi Yagyu is a Transportation Security Specialist at MTI, and previously served as a Research Librarian and Library Research Services Team Lead for the Santa Monica Office of the RAND corporation.  She holds a Master of Library Science Degree from UCLA.

August 2023
Safety and security
Railroad transportation



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