ISLAMABAD: Close to 386 personnel — including 137 army and 208 cops — have lost their lives in the first nine months of 2023 in the fight against terrorism, largely in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, putting it on an eight-year high.

“With 1,087 violence-related fatalities recorded so far during the year, the outlaws suffered 368 (34%), followed by civilians with 333 (31%) fatalities”, says the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) report – Q3 2023.

The report noted that there was a consistent and alarming increase in violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan.

Equally greater concern is the collective percentage of violence-related fatalities recorded in these two provinces which indicates a disturbing upward trend over the last five years; together, they suffered 72% of all fatalities in 2019, and this unsettling figure surged to a staggering 92% in the first 9 months of 2023.

During the third quarter of 2023, close to 445 people lost their lives and 440 were injured in 190 terror attacks and counter-terror operations.

The report stated that KP and Balochistan were the epicenter of the violence, accounting for nearly 94% of fatalities and 89% of attacks (including incidents of terrorism and security forces operations) recorded during this period. The last quarter also recorded an alarming surge in violence by about 57%, with the overall number of fatalities increasing from 284 in Q2 to 445 in Q3 of 2023.

This includes a staggering 131% uptick recorded in Balochistan and 28% in KP. Punjab witnessed a substantial 67% decrease in violence compared to the last quarter, while Sindh saw a 283% rise in violence though the number of fatalities was very low (23). Nearly 79% of all violence-related casualties recorded in the third quarter of 2023 resulted from terrorism; where 141 terrorist attacks caused 318 fatalities and 381 injuries of civilians and security personnel.

On the other hand, 127 outlaws were killed and 59 were injured during 49 security operations.

The report noted the figures point out a huge gap in the frequency of terror attacks and counter-terror operations as well as the number of outlaws killed in security operations.

The civilians bore the heaviest brunt of violence, in the outgoing quarter, as they were among the 58% of all casualties, followed by security personnel, suffering nearly 23%. The outlaws suffered the least; constituting only about 20% of all casualties in this period. The first 9 months of 2023 reveal some alarming trends with regard to the security forces’ losses.

First, with 386 lives lost so far into the year, their fatalities have hit a record 8-year high, exceeding the 2016 level and highest since 2015. Second, their percentage of the fatalities among other victims of violence recorded this year (nearly 36%) has also hit a record 11-year high. And third, the period from 2021 onwards records a constant rise in the number of fatalities.

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