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RISK: Shootings now more common than bombings in western terror attacks: Aon | Canadian Insurance
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RISK: Shootings now more common than bombings in western terror attacks: Aon

31 percent of attacks targeted private citizens in public spaces

Charlie Hebdo, Garissa University College, the church in Charleston, the factory near Lyon, the military recruitment centre in Tennessee, the Bataclan theatre, San Bernardino, and the dozens of cities and towns in the Middle East, Africa and Asia that don’t get nearly as much media attention here at home.

It’s no surprise Aon’s annual Terrorism and Political Violence map found a net increase in global terrorism risk ratings last year, or that 2015 was the most lethal year in Europe in nearly a decade.

Read: The insurance needed for today’s terrorism threats

Additionally, for the first time since its inception, the west saw more shootings than bombings, the Charlie Hebdo, San Bernardino and Bataclan attacks being three high-profile examples.

“The adoption of this methodology [shooting] is not limited to any singular group, and its recurrent use outside of conflict zones in some of the highest profile attacks suggests that its perceived success is leading to tactical emulation,” the report points out. “This change carries significant implications for businesses that feel that they might be exposed to such risks, and consequently seek to put in place appropriate mitigation strategies.”

The map also found 31 percent of attacks targeted private citizens in public spaces, a significant increase from 2010-2014 in which such attacks counted for 25 percent. This suggests terrorism has returned as a significant business risk, especially for companies operating in tourism-related sectors and crowded public spaces such as sports venues and shopping centres.

Despite heavy media attention on the west, the Middle East, South Asia and the Sahel and Gulf of Aden regions in Africa were the riskiest countries for terrorism in 2015.

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The threat from ISIS has contributed to sustained or increased risks in more than a dozen countries around the world, as does the civil unrest from the European migrant crisis and extremist political parties.

“There is little evidence in our data that the European refugee and migrant crisis is a cause of Islamist terrorism,” the report states, “but rather a consequence of it in weakened states where terrorism and political violence are at very high levels.”

“Our 2016 map demonstrates increasing regional instability and a growing spectrum of potential risks,” said Scott Bolton, director in crisis management at Aon Risk Solutions. “The threats highlighted in the map should encourage business leaders with global footprints to adopt a more strategic risk management approach to limit the impact of attacks on their people, operations and assets. Understanding how they are exposed to the peril is key to achieving this outcome.”