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 and 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.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Planning and Policy, Security and Counterterrorism

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Public surface transport, Terrorist and serious criminal attacks, Suicide attacks, Developing countries


Defense and Security Studies | Infrastructure | Terrorism Studies | Transportation

2344-RB-Evolving-Patterns-Violence.pdf (592 kB)
Research Brief