NEW DELHI: Maoist extremists have had a deadly run in 2016 with their involvement in half of the killings in the Red Corridor, a report by a Sydney-based think tank on global terror has said.
More than half of the 340 deaths in 929 terror attacks in 2016 were committed by Maoists operating in the eastern, central and the southern areas of India known as the Red Corridor, the fifth edition of Global Terror Index (GTI) report released on Wednesday said, adding police and private citizens were predominately targeted with subsequent attacks accounting for over half of all attacks.
LeT, founded by Hafiz Saeed, was responsible for 30 deaths arising from 20 attacks in the country, while Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), headed by Syed Salahuddin, claimed five deaths, said the report which said they were involved in the region despite international sanctions.
The report said that Hizbul Mujahideen was prominent in 2013 and claimed responsibility for 30 deaths in India.
"The two deadliest Islamist terrorist groups in 2015 in India were LeT and HM, both of which are also operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh," it said.
Released annually by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace, the GTI report said that the dispute with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir remains the main source of "Islamist terrorism".
While giving the overall figure, the report said India has witnessed 18 per cent increase in deaths resulting from terrorism in 2016 compared to the previous year and has been ranked eighth. Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are ranked first to seventh on terror in the 2017 GTI report.
From 2002 to 2015 India has been ranked between second and sixth on the GTI report but in the last two years its ranking improved to eighth.
Although 340 deaths from terrorism were recorded in 2016 alone, the figures were still the third-lowest since 2000.
The report said that though there has been a palpable dip in terror-related deaths in the last couple of years, the number of terror attacks have actually increased 16 per cent over the last year. A total of 929 terror-related incidents were reported in the country as compared to 800 in 2015.
However, India still has the lowest rate of deaths per attack among the top 10 countries that are most impacted by terror-related violence. India had an average of 0.4 deaths per attack compared to 2.7 deaths per attack for the rest of the countries that figure in the top 10.
The report elaborated that most of the non-lethal explosions were designed to attract people and the government's attention and aimed at evoking a shock-and-awe effect. In fact, such blasts were intentionally carried out some distance away from crowded places to lessen the impact.
It said that these bombings were largely by Maoist groups.
"This discrepancy between the number of attacks and deaths reflects how the nature of terrorism in India differs when compared to other countries. There is a large number of terrorist groups, but many are seeking political recognition and so their attacks are not aimed at killing people."
The report said that most terrorist attacks in India have low casualties.
Over three-quarters of the attacks in 2016 were non-lethal with only two per cent of attacks resulting in more than two deaths, it said, adding that in reflecting this, there were many groups which committed terrorist acts that did not kill a single person with only 20 of India's 56 terrorist groups responsible for fatalities.
India's northeast region has continued to see ethno-political unrest from various ethnic secessionist movements. The deadliest of these groups in 2016 were the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) which killed 15, and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) which killed seven. ULFA claimed responsibility for five deaths in 2015, the report said.