Terrorist and criminal attacks targeting children

(incomplete--under construction)

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 20 April 2013

Compiler's note: Terrorism, as a general rule, targets non-combatants--including men, women, and children. However, terrorist attacks specifically targeting children over other non-combatants are uncommon. Most terrorists have also traditionally avoided mass casualty terrorism. In either case, 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. More recently, Afghanistan has seen 20 poison gas attacks on girls' schools in 2009-2010, and 16 poison attacks at (mostly) girls' school in 2012, resulting in a total of 2,055 injuries--although it has been suggested that some of these "attacks" may be mass hysteria.

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
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
3 Feb 1976terrorismDjiboutihostage taking of school bus10360
20 Aug 1978terrorismAbadan, Iranarson of movie theatermany047710
7 Apr 1980terrorismMisgav Am Kibbutz, Israelhostage taking at children's dormitory14816
16 May 1986terrorismCokeville, Wyoming, United Stateshostage taking and bombing of school070279
17 Jan 1989criminalStockton, California, United Statessuicide shooting attack at school529630
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
13 Mar 1996criminalDunblane, Scotland, United Kingdomsuicide shooting attack at school16101812
24 Mar 1998criminalJonesboro, Arkansas, United Statesshooting attack at school49511
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
26 Mar 2001criminalMachakos, Kenyaarson of secondary school67196719
8 Jun 2001criminalIkeda, Japanknife attack on school813815
4 Sep 2001terrorismJerusalem, Israelattempted suicide bombing at school0?120
9 Sep 2001terrorismJerusalem, Israelsuicide bombing in pizzeria75+15130
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 June 2002terrorismThailandshooting attack on school bus215215
11 Nov 2002criminalChangde, P.R. Chinapoisoning of food at high school0many0193
25 Nov 2002criminalZhanjiang City, Guangdong, P.R. Chinapoisoning of food at kindergarten school070072
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
21 Mar 2005criminalRed Lake, Minnesota, United Statesshooting attack at high school67107
4 Apr 2005criminalZhanjian, Guangdong, P.R. Chinaknife attack at middle school0808
10 Jun 2005criminalHikari, Yamaguichi, Japanbomb attack at high school056058
16 Jun 2005criminalSiem Reap, Cambodiahostage taking at elementary school1010
13 Jul 2005terrorismBaghdad, Iraqcar bombing of gathered children24202750
12 Oct 2005criminalGuangde, Anhui, P.R. Chinashooting attack at primary school016018
15 Jun 2006terrorismKabithigollewa, Sri Lankamine explosion against bus15?6480
27 Sep 2006criminalBailey, Colorado, United Stateshostage taking at school1?2?
2 Oct 2006criminalNickel Mines, Pennsylvania, United Stateshostage taking and shooting at school5565
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
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
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
26 Apr 2009terrorismCharikar, Kapisa province, Afghanistangas poisoning attack on girls' school040045
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
25 Oct 2009terrorismBaghdad, Iraqtwin vehicle bombing of government buildings206+155540
28 Oct 2009terrorismPeshawar, Pakistancar bombing at marketplace13?118213
7 Dec 2009terrorismBaghdad, Iraqbombing of school625841
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
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
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?
22 Oct 2010criminalZamboanga City, Philippinesknife attack at elementary school1426
7 Apr 2011criminalRio de Janeiro, Brazilshooting attack at elementary school12121312
7 Apr 2011terrorismSa'ad, Israelanti-tank missile attack on school bus1011
19 Jun 2011terrorismKapisa province, Afghanistanrocket strike on school during gunbattle0517
4 Jul 2011terrorismFaryab province, Afghanistangrenade attack on high school017025
22 Jul 2011terrorismUtoya and Oslo, Norwayshooting attack and bombing5040?77151
28 Nov 2011criminalKunduz, Afghanistanacid attack on family in home0304
11 Mar 2011criminalPanjwayi district, Afghanistanshooting attack on villages by U.S. soldier90160
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 2012terrorismBamyan 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
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
15 Apr 2013terrorismBoston, Massachusetts, United Statestwo bombings at Boston Marathon1143183

Incident descriptions:

Analysis:

(under construction)


Sources:

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  112. Sommerville, Quentin, 4 July 2012, "Afghans fear mysterious school 'poisonings'," BBC News, on line [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18118818].
  113. TOLOnews, 7 July 2012, "New suspected school poisoning in Jawzjan," TOLOnews, on line [http://tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/6777-new-suspected-school-poisoning-in-jawzjan].
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  116. AP, 17 April 2013, "3 children in critical condition after Boston Marathon bombing," Syracuse.com, on line [http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/3_children_in_critical_conditi.html]; Leonning, Carol D., 15 April 2013, "Several children injured in Boston marathon bombings, Washington Post, on line [http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-15/politics/38566052_1_emergency-room-leg-injury-strep-throat]; Montgomery, David, Mary Beth Sheridan, and Lenny Bernstein, 16 April 2013, "Many Boston Marathon bomb victims cope with leg injuries," Washington Post, on line [http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-16/world/38586238_1_amputation-bombs-nails].


© 2004-2012, 2013 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 20 April 2013.
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