War is a terrible thing that causes immense suffering and destruction. One of the most devastating weapons of war is the bomb, which can be dropped from planes, launched from missiles, or detonated by suicide attackers. Bombs can kill or injure thousands of people, destroy buildings and infrastructure, and create environmental and health hazards.
But which countries have suffered the most from bombing attacks in recent history? This is not an easy question to answer, as different sources may have different definitions and methods of counting bombing incidents, deaths, and injuries. Moreover, some countries may not report or disclose accurate information about the bombings that occur within their borders.
Top 10 Most Bombed Countries in World
However, based on some available data from various sources, we can try to rank the top 10 most bombed countries in the world. This ranking is not definitive or comprehensive, but rather an attempt to give an overview of the scale and impact of bombing attacks in different regions and contexts.
China may not be the first country that comes to mind when thinking of bombing attacks, but it has experienced a large number of incidents in recent years. According to the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which collects and collates data on terrorist incidents around the world, China had 1,083 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 1,002 deaths and 84 injuries. Most of these incidents were attributed to separatist groups in Xinjiang, a region in western China where ethnic Uyghurs have been facing repression and discrimination by the Chinese government.
Nigeria is another country that has faced a high level of bombing attacks, mainly due to the insurgency of Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that seeks to establish a caliphate in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries. Boko Haram has used suicide bombers, car bombs, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to target civilians, security forces, and government institutions. According to the GTD, Nigeria had 484 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 1,805 deaths and 1,031 injuries.
Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since 2011, which has involved multiple actors, including the Syrian government, rebel groups, Kurdish forces, Islamic State (IS), and foreign powers. The war has been marked by widespread and indiscriminate bombing attacks by all sides, using conventional and unconventional weapons such as barrel bombs, chemical weapons, cluster munitions, and incendiary bombs. According to the GTD, Syria had 243 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 2,026 deaths and 1,303 injuries. However, this is likely an underestimation of the true toll of the bombing campaign in Syria, as many incidents may not be reported or verified.
Yemen is another country that has been engulfed by a civil war since 2014, which has pitted the Houthi rebels against the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The war has also drawn in regional and international actors, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have supported different sides of the conflict. The Saudi-led coalition has conducted a relentless aerial bombardment campaign against the Houthis and their allies, using American-made weapons and intelligence. The coalition has been accused of violating international humanitarian law by targeting civilian areas and infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, markets, and water facilities. According to the GTD, Yemen had 226 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 762 deaths and 722 injuries.
Egypt has also witnessed a surge of bombing attacks in recent years, mainly by Islamist militant groups such as IS and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), who have targeted security forces, government officials, and religious minorities, especially Coptic Christians. The attacks have increased after the military coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and the subsequent crackdown on his supporters and dissenters. According to the GTD, Egypt had 224 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 877 deaths and 626 injuries.
Libya has been mired in chaos and violence since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, which left a power vacuum that was filled by various armed factions, including Islamist militants, tribal militias, and rival governments. The country has also been subject to foreign intervention, such as the NATO-led air campaign that helped topple Gaddafi, and more recently, the involvement of Turkey, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates in supporting different sides of the conflict. The bombing attacks in Libya have been carried out by both domestic and foreign actors, using aircraft, drones, missiles, and IEDs. According to the GTD, Libya had 190 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 289 deaths and 171 injuries.
Turkey has faced a long-running insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that seeks greater autonomy and rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey and neighboring countries. The PKK has used guerrilla tactics and suicide bombings to target Turkish security forces and civilians, especially in the southeast of the country. Turkey has also been targeted by IS and other Islamist groups, who have carried out mass-casualty attacks in major cities such as Ankara and Istanbul. In response, Turkey has launched military operations against the PKK and IS in Turkey and abroad, including airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. According to the GTD, Turkey had 181 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 222 deaths and 328 injuries.
Thailand may not be widely known as a bombed country, but it has suffered from a low-intensity conflict in its southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat since 2004. The conflict is driven by ethnic and religious grievances of the Malay Muslim population, who face discrimination and marginalization by the Thai Buddhist majority and the central government. The insurgents have used bombings as a frequent tactic to target security forces, government officials, and civilians, often using motorcycles or cars as delivery vehicles for explosives. According to the GTD, Thailand had 179 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 72 deaths and 270 injuries
2. Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo (not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo) has experienced a resurgence of violence since 2016, when President Denis Sassou Nguesso won a controversial third term in office amid allegations of fraud and repression. The violence has been concentrated in the Pool region, where a rebel group called the Ninja militia has been fighting against the government forces. The Ninja militia is led by Frédéric Bintsamou, also known as Pastor Ntumi, who was a former ally of Sassou Nguesso but turned against him after the disputed election. The militia has used rockets, mortars, and grenades to attack government targets, while the government has responded with airstrikes and artillery. According to the GTD, the Republic of the Congo had 143 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 596 deaths and 193 injuries.
Iraq tops the list of the most bombed countries in the world, as it has been plagued by war, insurgency, sectarian violence, and terrorism for almost two decades. The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, but also unleashed a wave of instability and violence that continues to this day. The US and its allies conducted thousands of airstrikes against Iraqi targets during the invasion and occupation, while Iraqi insurgents and militias used IEDs, car bombs, suicide bombers, and rockets to resist the foreign presence and attack rival factions. The emergence of IS in 2014 added another layer of brutality and bloodshed to the Iraqi conflict, as the extremist group seized large swathes of territory and carried out horrific attacks against civilians and security forces. The US-led coalition launched another air campaign to support the Iraqi government and its allies in their fight against IS, while IS also used drones, mortars, and chemical weapons to defend its positions. According to the GTD, Iraq had 2,096 bombing incidents in 2017, resulting in 5,378 deaths and 6,267 injuries. However, this is likely a gross underestimation of the true scale and impact of the bombing attacks in Iraq, as many incidents may not be reported or verified.
These are some of the countries that have suffered the most from bombing attacks in recent history. However, there are many other countries that have also experienced significant levels of bombing violence, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Ukraine, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, India, Colombia, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Libya, Egypt.
Most Asked Questions and Answers
Q: What is the difference between bombing and terrorism? A: Bombing is a general term that refers to any attack that uses explosives to cause damage or harm. Terrorism is a specific type of violence that aims to create fear and influence political or social change by targeting civilians or non-combatants. Not all bombings are acts of terrorism, and not all acts of terrorism involve bombings.
Q: What are the main types of bombs used in bombing attacks? A: There are many types of bombs that can be used in bombing attacks, depending on the purpose, target, and delivery method of the attack. Some of the most common types are:
- Aerial bombs: Bombs that are dropped from aircraft, such as planes, helicopters, or drones. They can be guided or unguided, and vary in size and power.
- Missile bombs: Bombs that are launched from a distance, such as rockets, missiles, or artillery shells. They can be guided or unguided, and vary in range and accuracy.
- Suicide bombs: Bombs that are carried or worn by a person who detonates them near the target, usually killing themselves and others in the process. They can be hidden in clothing, bags, vehicles, or other objects.
- Car bombs: Bombs that are placed in or attached to a vehicle, such as a car, truck, or bike. They can be detonated remotely, by a timer, or by a suicide attacker.
- Improvised explosive devices (IEDs): Bombs that are made from homemade or readily available materials, such as fertilizer, fuel, or metal. They can be hidden in various locations, such as roadsides, buildings, or trash cans. They can be detonated remotely, by a timer, by a wire, or by a pressure plate.
Q: What are the effects of bombing attacks on people and the environment? A: Bombing attacks can have devastating effects on people and the environment. Some of the effects are:
- Death and injury: Bombing attacks can kill or injure thousands of people, either directly from the blast or indirectly from the debris, fire, smoke, or shockwave. The victims can include combatants and non-combatants alike. The injuries can range from minor cuts and burns to severe trauma and amputation.
- Displacement and migration: Bombing attacks can force people to flee their homes and communities, either temporarily or permanently. This can create humanitarian crises such as refugee flows, overcrowding, food insecurity, disease outbreaks, and human rights violations.
- Damage and destruction: Bombing attacks can damage or destroy buildings and infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, power lines, water systems, schools, hospitals, markets, and cultural sites. This can disrupt essential services and economic activities, and erode social cohesion and cultural heritage.
- Pollution and contamination: Bombing attacks can pollute or contaminate the environment, such as air, water, soil, and wildlife. This can pose health risks for humans and animals, and affect biodiversity and ecosystems.
Q: What are the rules of war that regulate bombing attacks? A: The rules of war, also known as international humanitarian law (IHL), are a set of legal principles and norms that aim to limit the effects of armed conflict on people and the environment. They apply to all parties involved in an armed conflict, regardless of their motives or objectives. They include the following rules that regulate bombing attacks:
- Distinction: Parties must distinguish between civilians and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives. They must not target civilians or civilian objects, or use indiscriminate weapons that cannot distinguish between them.
- Proportionality: Parties must weigh the military advantage gained from an attack against the harm caused to civilians and civilian objects. They must not launch an attack if the expected harm is excessive in relation to the military advantage.
- Precaution: Parties must take all feasible precautions to avoid or minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects. They must verify their targets, choose appropriate weapons and methods, warn civilians of impending attacks if possible, and suspend or cancel an attack if it becomes disproportionate or indiscriminate.
Q: What are the consequences for violating the rules of war? A: Violating the rules of war is a serious crime that can have legal, moral, and political consequences. Some of the consequences are:
- Accountability: Parties who violate the rules of war can be held accountable for their actions by national or international courts, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). They can face prosecution, trial, and punishment for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.
- Responsibility: Parties who violate the rules of war can be held responsible for their actions by other parties, such as states, organizations, or individuals. They can face sanctions, condemnation, or reparations for the harm they caused.
- Reputation: Parties who violate the rules of war can damage their reputation and credibility in the eyes of the international community and the public opinion. They can lose support, legitimacy, or influence for their cause or interests.