Terrorist and criminal attacks targeting children

(incomplete--under construction)

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 22 May 2015

Compiler's note: One of the more accepted defining characteristics of terrorism is that it targets non-combatants--including men, women, and children. However, terrorist attacks specifically targeting children over other non-combatants are uncommon. This is for the same reason that most terrorists have historically avoided mass casualty terrorism: the shock value is so great that such attacks erode support for the terrorists' political objectives. The 9/11 attacks represent an increasing trend in mass casualty terrorism. At the same time policymakers are examing this evolving threat, they must increasingly consider the threat of terrorist attacks targeting children. In particular, the 2004 school attack in Beslan, Russia, has heightened awareness of a potentially developing threat. Since then, Afghanistan has seen 20 poison gas attacks on girls' schools in 2009-2010, and 22 poison attacks at (mostly) girls' school in 2012-2013, resulting in a total of 2,706 injuries--although it has been suggested that some of these "attacks" may be mass hysteria. Attacks in Nigeria in 2013-2014 have increasingly targeted schools, and another mass casualty attack on a school occurred in 2014 in Peshawar, Pakistan.

This page identifies the following types of incidents:

As possible, descriptions indicate ages of victims to clarify the possibly ambiguous term "children." This list is far from complete; more data from the United States and Israel is included in part for reasons of data availability and in part due to the particular policy impacts of these attacks. High numbers of child casualties are not unique to these countries, with terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka being a particular example. Corrections are welcome.

Summary of included incidents (details below)

datetype of attacklocationmethod and targetchild casualtiestotal casualties
killedinjuredkilledinjured
18 May 1927criminalBath, Michigan, United Statesbombing of school41554658
11 Apr 1956terrorismShafrir, Israelshooting attack on synagogue3545
15 Sep 1959criminalHouston, Texas, United Statessuicide bombing of school317618
15 Sep 1963terrorismBirmingham, Alabama, United Statesbombing of church42+423
18 Mar 1968terrorismNegev desert, Israellandmine attack on school bus228228
22 May 1970terrorismAvivim, Israelrocket attack on school bus9191219
11 Apr 1974terrorismQiryat Shemona, Israelshooting attack on residential building8?1816
15 May 1974terrorismMa'alot, Israelhostage taking2066+27134
8 Feb 1975terrorismEl Arish, Sinaibombing1313
13 Nov 1975terrorismJerusalem, Israelbombing outside ice cream shop6?642
3 Feb 1976terrorismDjiboutihostage taking of school bus10360
26 Jan-13 Feb 1978terrorismMaastricht, Netherlands, and Bremen, West Germanypoisoning of Israeli citrus products05013
11 Mar 1978terrorismTel Aviv, Israelshooting attack on beach and hostage taking on bus13?5172
20 Aug 1978terrorismAbadan, Iranarson of movie theatermany047710
18 Nov 1978criminalJonestown, Guyanapoisoning of children during mass suicide by cult members276091811
7 Apr 1980terrorismMisgav Am Kibbutz, Israelhostage taking at children's dormitory14816
2 Jun 1980terrorismHebron, West Bankfour bombings, including grenade attack near elementary school04011
2 Aug 1980terrorismBologna, Italybombing at railway station8?85300
16 May 1986terrorismCokeville, Wyoming, United Stateshostage taking and bombing of school070279
2 Jun 1988terrorismJerusalem, Israelattack in park1010
2 Oct 1988terrorismJerusalem, Israelexplosion of bomb hidden in loaf of bread0303
17 Jan 1989criminalStockton, California, United Statessuicide shooting attack at school529630
18 Apr 1989criminalIndianapolis, Indiana, United Statesexplosion of bomb hidden in toothpaste tube0101
17 Mar 1992terrorismBuenos Aires, Argentinasuicide car bombing at Israeli embassy??29252
1 May 1992criminalOlivehurt, California, United Statesshooting at high school39410
19 Apr 1995terrorismOklahoma City, Oklahoma, United Statescar bombing of federal office building19?169675
4 Mar 1996terrorismTel Aviv, Israelsuicide bombing at Dizengoff Center5?14163
13 Mar 1996criminalDunblane, Scotland, United Kingdomsuicide shooting attack at school16101812
16 Nov 1996terrorismKaspiysk, Dagestan, Russiabombing of Russian border guard housing20?67?
22 Jul 1997terrorismIsraelterrorist drove car into a group of teenagers, then exited and began attacking with a knife??112
24 Mar 1998criminalJonesboro, Arkansas, United Statesshooting attack at school49511
6 May 1998terrorismJerusalem, Israelstabbing attack1010
21 May 1998criminalSpringfield, Oregon, United Statesshooting attacks at residence and high school225425
29 Oct 1998terrorismGush Katif, Gazaattempted bombing of school bus0328
29 Oct 1998criminalGoteborg, Swedenarson attack on dance hall49?63?
20 Apr 1999criminalLittleton, Colorado, United Statessuicide shooting attack on school12251527
15 Sep 1999criminalFort Worth, Texas, United Statesshooting attack at church service4488
20 Nov 2000terrorismGazabombing of school bus0529
31 Dec 2000terrorismRamallah, West Bankshooting attack on civilian car0525
26 Mar 2001criminalMachakos, Kenyaarson of secondary school67196719
5 Jun 2001terrorismShiloh, Israelstoning attack on car1010
8 Jun 2001criminalIkeda, Osaka, Japanknife attack on school813815
4 Sep 2001terrorismJerusalem, Israelattempted suicide bombing at school0?120
9 Sep 2001terrorismJerusalem, Israelsuicide bombing in pizzeria75+15130
1 Dec 2001terrorismJerusalem, Israeltwo suicide bombings in pedestrian mall5?13188
2 Mar 2002terrorismJerusalem, Israelsuicide bombing outside synagogue71+1150
26 Apr 2002criminalErfurt, Germanyshooting attack in high school2?17?
9 May 2002terrorismKaspiysk, Russiabombing at parade173143151
28 May 2002terrorismItamar, Israelshooting attack on school3242
3 Jun 2002terrorismThailandshooting attack on school bus215215
20 Jun 2002terrorismItamar, West Bankshooting attack3274
23 Sep 2002terrorismHebron, West Bankshooting attack0313
7 Oct 2002terrorismBowie, Maryland, United Statesshooting attack by Beltway sniper0101
29 Oct 2002terrorismHermesh, West Bankshooting attack2?42
11 Nov 2002criminalChangde, P.R. Chinapoisoning of food at high school0many0193
21 Nov 2002terrorismJerusalem, Israelsuicide bombing on bus4?1250
25 Nov 2002criminalZhanjiang City, Guangdong, P.R. Chinapoisoning of food at kindergarten school070072
26 Apr 2002criminalErfurt, Germanyshooting attack in high school2?171
5 Mar 2003terrorismHaifa, Israelsuicide bombing on bus9?1853
10 Aug 2003terrorismnear Lebanon borderanti-aircraft rocket fired from across Lebanon border1414
19 Aug 2003terrorismJerusalem, Israelsuicide bombing on bus8?24133
7 Jul 2003terrorismMoshav Kfar Yavetz, Israelsuicide bombing at house0323
2 Mar 2004terrorismKarbala, Iraqsuicide bombings at shrines15?121122
21 Apr 2004terrorismBasra, Iraqcar bombings at police stations and police academy13?74100
2 May 2004terrorismGush Katif, Gazashooting attack on vehicle4053
28 Jun 2004terrorismSderot, Gazarocket attack on nursery school1?211
4 Aug 2004criminalBeijing, P.R. Chinaknife attack at kindergarten school114117
3 Sep 2004terrorismBeslan, Russiahostage taking and bombing at school156337366747
30 Sep 2004terrorismBaghdad, Iraqcar bombing at public ceremony35724269
25 Nov 2004criminalRuzhou, Henan, P.R. Chinaknife attack at high school dormitory8484
28 Feb 2005terrorismHilla, Babil, Iraqcar bombing outside medical clinic8?135130
21 Mar 2005criminalRed Lake, Minnesota, United Statesshooting attack at high school67107
4 Apr 2005criminalZhanjian, Guangdong, P.R. Chinaknife attack at middle school0808
23 Apr 2005terrorismPakhapani, Rolpa, Nepalbombing5353
10 Jun 2005criminalHikari, Yamaguichi, Japanbomb attack at high school056058
24 Jun 2005terrorismBeit Hagai, West Bank2?23
16 Jun 2005criminalSiem Reap, Cambodiahostage taking at elementary school1010
13 Jul 2005terrorismBaghdad, Iraqcar bombing of gathered children24202750
29 Sep 2005terrorismBalad, Salah Al-Din, Iraqthree car bombings25?95101
12 Oct 2005criminalGuangde, Anhui, P.R. Chinashooting attack at primary school016018
29 Nov 2005terrorismSanta Cruz, California, United Statesincendiary bombing of homes0204
15 Jun 2006terrorismKabithigollewa, Sri Lankamine explosion against bus15?6480
25 Jun 2006terrorismBatar Illit, West Bankteenager kidnapped and killed1010
2 Aug 2006terrorismBaghdad, Iraqexplosion of bombs buried in soccer field12?12?
27 Sep 2006criminalBailey, Colorado, United Stateshostage taking at school1?2?
2 Oct 2006criminalNickel Mines, Pennsylvania, United Stateshostage taking and shooting at school5565
6 Oct 2006terrorismBasauti, Kailali, Nepalbombing of village development committee area3035
3 Dec 2006terrorismBaghdad, Iraqmortar attack on school010010
28 Jan 2007terrorismBaghdad, Iraqmortar attack on school520520
28 Jan 2007terrorismRamadi, Iraqbombing attack near school210510
20 Feb 2007terrorismTaji, Iraqbombing of chlorine tanker truck near restaurant0529150
24 Feb 2007terrorismHabaniya, Al-Anbar, Iraqfuel truck bombing near Sunni mosque15?5648
16 Mar 2007terrorismFalluja, Iraqsuicide bombing with dump truck carrying chlorine tanks076250
2 Apr 2007terrorismKirkuk, Iraqtruck bombing of police station next to school25012200
6 Apr 2007terrorismRamadi, Iraqsuicide truck bombing using chlorine tanks??3550
12 Jun 2007terrorismLogar province, Afghanistanshooting attack on girls leaving school2424
15 Jun 2007terrorismTarinkot, Afghanistansuicide bombing near school113113
6 Aug 2007terrorismQubbak, Iraqtruck bombing of residential area19?2850
14 Aug 2007terrorismAl-Qataniyah and Al-Adnaniyah, Iraqmultiple truck bombings in villagesmanymany5201,500
12 Oct 2007terrorismTuz Khurmato, Iraqbombing on playground217218
6 Nov 2007terrorismBaghlani-jadid, Afghanistansuicide bombing at public ceremony619377100
7 Nov 2007criminalTuusula, Finlandshooting attack at high school610811
22 Jan 2008terrorismBa'qubah, Iraqsuicide bombing at school017121
6 Mar 2008terrorismJerusalem, Israelshooting attack7?911
12 Nov 2008terrorismKandahar City, Afghanistanacid attack on schoolgirls014015
26 Dec 2008terrorismBeit Lahiya, Gaza Striprocket attack2323
28 Dec 2008terrorismKhost, Afghanistansuicide car bombing at checkpoint near elementary school14?1658
13 Feb 2009terrorismIskandiriya, Iraqsuicide bombing of Shiite pilgrimage?283276
2 Apr 2009terrorismBat Ayin, West Bankattack by axe-wielding terrorist1111
26 Apr 2009terrorismCharikar, Kapisa province, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school040045
10 May 2009terrorismBusurungi, Congo Dem. Rep.armed attack on village25?8624
11 May 2009terrorismCharikar, Kapisa province, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school061062
12 May 2009terrorismAfghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school0980104
9 Jul 2009terrorismLogar province, Afghanistantruck bombing near highway16?255
8 Sep 2009terrorismMuqdadiyah, Diyala, Iraqkidnapping and killing of 10-year-old son of politician1010
25 Oct 2009terrorismBaghdad, Iraqtwin vehicle bombing of government buildings206+155540
28 Oct 2009terrorismPeshawar, Pakistancar bombing at marketplace13?118213
4 Dec 2009terrorismRawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistanattack on mosque with guns, grenades, and suicide bombs17?4081
7 Dec 2009terrorismBaghdad, Iraqbombing of school625841
23 Mar 2010criminalFujian, P.R. Chinaattack on students at elementary school8?8?
1 Apr 2010criminalFujian, P.R. Chinaknife attack on primary school students016017
21 Apr 2010terrorismKunduz, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school023023
24 Apr 2010terrorismKunduz, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school048051
25 Apr 2010terrorismKunduz, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school013013
4 May 2010terrorismKabul, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school022025
11 May 2010terrorismKunduz, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school030030
11 May 2010terrorismKabul, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school0606
12 May 2010criminalShaanxi, P.R. Chinaknife attack on kindergarten students7?9?
13 May 2010terrorismIsraelshooting attack1010
Jun 2010terrorismAfghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school030030
12 Jun 2010terrorismGhazni City, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school060060
3 Aug 2010criminalZibo, Shandong, P.R. Chinaknife attack at kindergarten school3?420
21 Aug 2010terrorismKabul, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school023023
25 Aug 2010terrorismKabul, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school060074
28 Aug 2010terrorismKabul, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school048052
31 Aug 2010terrorismKabul, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school074074
22 Oct 2010criminalZamboanga City, Philippinesknife attack at elementary school1426
2010terrorismAfghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school0?0?
2010terrorismAfghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school0?0?
2010terrorismAfghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school0?0?
2010terrorismAfghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school0?0?
2010terrorismAfghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school0?0?
11 Mar 2011terrorismItamar, West Bankknife attack on residence3050
11 Mar 2011criminalPanjwayi district, Afghanistanshooting attack on villages by U.S. soldier90160
7 Apr 2011criminalRio de Janeiro, Brazilshooting attack at elementary school12121312
7 Apr 2011terrorismSa'ad, Israelanti-tank missile attack on school bus1011
17 Jun 2011terrorismSirkanay, Kunar, Afghanistanstrike of rocket fired across border from Pakistan4?4?
19 Jun 2011terrorismKapisa province, Afghanistanrocket strike on school during gunbattle0517
3 Jul 2011terrorismFaryab province, Afghanistangrenade attack on high school017025
22 Jul 2011terrorismUtoya and Oslo, Norwayshooting attack and bombing5040?77151
13 Sep 2011terrorismPeshawar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistanattack on school bus412518
28 Nov 2011criminalKunduz, Afghanistanacid attack on family in home0304
31 Mar 2012terrorismEsfandi area, Ghazni province, Afghanistanacid attack on children2020
17 Apr 2012terrorismRustaq district, Takhar province, Afghanistanwater poisoning attack on girls' school01500171
22 May 2012terrorismTaloqan, Takhar province, Afghanistanwater poisoning attack on girls' school080084
26 May 2012terrorismTaloqan, Takhar province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school040040
28 May 2012terrorismTakhar province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school01210124
2 Jun 2012terrorismTaloqan, Takhar province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school020020
3 Jun 2012terrorismFarkhar district, Takhar province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school065065
5 Jun 2012terrorismRustaq district, Takhar province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school060060
Jun 2012terrorismShirin Hazara, Bamyan province, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school02+02+
19 Jun 2012terrorismBamyan province, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school047047
22 Jun 2012terrorismSar-e-Pul province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girl's high school01180118
23 Jun 2012terrorismSar-e-Pul, Sar-e-Pul province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girl's school094094
25 Jun 2012terrorismSar-e-Pul province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girl's high school090090
30 Jun 2012terrorismSar-e-Pul, Sar-e-Pul province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girl's school053053
2 Jul 2012terrorismSheberghan province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girl's school02550255
Jul 2012terrorismJawzjan province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girl's school01000100
7 Jul 2012terrorismJawzjan province, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girl's school060060
9 Oct 2012terrorismMingora, Pakistanshooting attack on school bus0303
26 Oct 2012terrorismMaimana, Faryab, Afghanistansuicide bombing by 15-year-old644059
15 Nov 2012terrorismKiryat Malachi, Israelrocket attack from Gaza on apartment building0430
14 Dec 2012criminalChengping, Henan, P.R. Chinaknife attack on children outside primary school022023
14 Dec 2012criminalNewtown, Connecticut, United Statesshooting attack on elementary school200283
18 Mar 2013terrorismMaiduguri, Borno, Nigeriaarmed attack on three schools0333
15 Apr 2013terrorismBoston, Massachusetts, United Statestwo bombings at Boston Marathon1143264
18 Apr 2013terrorismTaloqan, Takhar, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school018018
21 Apr 2013terrorismTaloqan, Takhar, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school074074
1 May 2013terrorismKabul, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school01500150
1 May 2013terrorismMakhachkala, Dagestan, Russiabombing at shopping mall2022
14 May 2013terrorismBalkh, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school01500150
15 May 2013terrorismFaryab, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school080080
1 Jun 2013terrorismBehsud, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school022020
1 Jun 2013terrorismMaimana, Faryab, Afghanistanpoisoning attack on girls' school077077
3 Jun 2013terrorismPaktika, Afghanistansuicide bombing targeting school children on lunch break10161426
16 Jun 2013terrorismDamaturu, Yobe, Nigeriaattack on school7?9?
17 Jun 2013terrorismMaiduguri, Borno, Nigeriaattack on school9?9?
30 Jun 2013terrorismBaghdad, Iraqbombing at soccer game10?12?
6 Jul 2013terrorismMamudo, Yobe, Nigeriaattack on boarding school41?42?
9 Jul 2013terrorismHerat, Afghanistanroadside bombing4?17?
19 Nov 2013terrorismKhairkot, Paktika, Afghanistanroadside bombing7373
20 Jan 2014terrorismRawalpindi, Pakistansuicide bombing at market3?1429
2 Mar 2014terrorismMaiduguri, Borno, Nigeriatruck bombing in marketmany?50?
8 Apr 2014terrorismSibi, Pakistanbombing at market5?1746
14 Apr 2014terrorismChibok, Borno, Nigeriaattack and kidnapping at girls' boarding school?2761276
28 Apr 2014terrorismKarachi, Sindh, Pakistangrenade attack on seminary311311
12 Jun 2014terrorismWest Bankkidnapping and killing of teenagers3030
2 Jul 2014terrorismWest Bankkidnapping and killing of teenager1010
6 Sep 2014criminalMediterranean Sea off Maltaramming and sinking of refugee ship10014508
22 Oct 2014terrorismJerusalem, Israelvehicle driven into crowd at rail station1?313
16 Dec 2014terrorismPeshawar, Pakistanshooting/bomb attack on school132121148124
16 Dec 2014terrorismRadaa, Bayda, Yementwo bombings, one striking a school bus20?3112
3-4 Jan 2015terrorismBaga, Borno, Nigeriaarmed attack and arson destroying most of Baga??700300
4 Feb 2015terrorismFotokol, Cameroonarmed attack on town??90500
24 Mar 2015criminalPrads-Haute-Bleone, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Franceintentional crash of airliner by co-pilot1701500

Incident descriptions:

Analysis:

(under construction)


Sources:

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Last modified 22 May 2015.
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