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Beyond Brussels: 8 Other Cities Attacked by Terrorists in March

It’s important to remember that other places in Africa, Asia, and Europe have also been touched by violent extremism this month.

Brussels saw a big win four days ago when the key suspect behind the 2015 Paris terror attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was caught after a four-month-long manhunt. But that victory has been eclipsed by the devastating explosions that hit the city’s airport and metro transit Tuesday. The Islamic State has claimed credit for these fresh attacks, which have killed at least 32 people and injured around 200.

Here’s Rita Katz, of the terrorist monitoring agency SITE Intelligence Group:

Brussels was by no means a surprising target, as my colleague Feargus O’Sullivan explains; and it’s also not the only one. Sites in Syria and Iraq, where ISIS is active, experience routine violence. But apart from these places, consider these eight other cities that have been touched by terrorism in the past month.

Here is a Google map of those locations, followed by a timeline of the attacks:

March 21: Bamako, Mali

Unidentified gunmen opened fire at a hotel here, where a European Union mission of almost 600 people was headquartered, Reuters reports. The mission’s purpose was to train Malian forces to combat Islamist militant groups active in the region.

One attacker was killed and two others arrested, and E.U. officials came out of the incident unharmed:

It’s not immediately clear which terrorist group the gunmen were affiliated with, although it’s likely linked to the Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa—the same group that took responsibility for a previous attack on a Bamako hotel back in November. Around 170 people were taken hostage in that attack, and 27 were killed, according to the BBC.

March 20: Istanbul, Turkey

A suicide bomber killed five people, including himself, and injured more than 30 others on the bustling Istiklal Street.

Turkey’s interior minister later linked the attack to the Islamic State; via Al Jazeera:

"We have determined that Mehmet Ozturk, born in 1992 in Gaziantep, has carried out the heinous attack on Saturday in Istanbul," Ala said in a news conference broadcast live on television.

"It has been established that he is a member of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIL]," he added.

Here’s in The Guardian, on how this attack was a blow to the city’s “cosmopolitan glory”:

I often think of Istiklal as a body part: it is a heart, a backbone, a nerve. On Saturday Istilkal was an artery. Isis wanted it cut.

I read about the bombing and became sick. I texted my friends to see if they were safe, and reflected on how frequent this ritual of checking in after a bombing has become.

March 16: Maiduguri, Nigeria

Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a mosque in the outskirts of Maiduguri, a city in the Northeastern region of Nigeria, during morning prayers. The blasts killed 24 worshippers, according to The New York Times.

Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist group based in that region has often deployed female suicide bombers to target civilians in Maiduguri, and is likely behind this attack as well. Here’s a bit more context about the city, via The Guardian:

Maiduguri has a population of about a million, and currently hosts almost as many displaced people. About 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes during Boko Haram’s six-year uprising. About 20,000 people have been killed in Nigeria and hundreds more elsewhere as the insurgents have carried out attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

March 16: Peshawar, Pakistan

A blast killed at least 15 and injured around 30 people traveling by bus in Peshawar, a northwestern city of Pakistan that’s routinely targeted by Taliban militants, the BBC reports.

According to Reuters, Lashkar-e-Islam, an ally of the Pakistani Taliban, planted an improvised explosive device under the bus, which was transporting around 50 government officials to their offices in the city.

March 13: Ankara, Turkey

Militants from an insurgent group, Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, set off a car bomb in Kizilay Square at the heart of Turkey’s capital, killing at least 37. The attack was retribution for the government’s military operations in the southeastern region, the BBC reports; and tensions between the Kurdish militants and the Turkish government forces have only escalated since it occurred.

March 13: Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast

At a resort outside the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, gunmen belonging to the North African affiliate of Al Qaeda opened fire at people enjoying a leisurely day at the beach, the New York Times reports:

The attack, on the first sunny Sunday in weeks, took place in Grand-Bassam, a popular palm tree-lined getaway for Ivorians and foreigners. Fourteen civilians and two members of the country’s special forces were killed, as well as six gunmen, according to a spokeswoman for the president.

The aftermath of the Ivory Coast beach hotel attacks:

Ivorians have taken to social media to dispel fear and express support for the families affected by the attack. But worries about the lasting damage the attack will inflict on the country’s key tourism industry remain.

March 7: Shabqadar, Pakistan

Around 10 people were killed and 30 injured by a suicide bomb in the small town of Shabqadar, in a northwestern province where the ethnic Pashtun community resides. Via Dawn:

According to police, a policeman tried to stop and search the suicide bomber but he forced his way through the main entrance of the sub-district courts and detonated his vest when another constable pounced on him before he could proceed towards the more crowded family court.

The attack, carried out by the Taliban's Jamaat-ur-Ahrar bloc, was revenge for the execution of the man convicted of killing a liberal governor of Punjab in 2011 who had wanted to change the country’s blasphemy laws.

In the wake of the attacks in Brussels, people have been recalling many of the above attacks on Twitter to highlight that terrorism is not just a Western issue, but a global one:

About the Author

  • Tanvi Misra
    Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering demographics, inequality, and urban culture. She previously contributed to NPR's Code Switch blog and BBC's online news magazine.