Inter. Terrorism Casualties Drop
WASHINGTON (AP) _The number of casualties from international terrorism dropped sharply last year compared with 1996, and the overall total of such incidents fell to one of its lowest annual totals since 1971, the State Department said today.
The department’s annual terrorism report said 221 people died last year in terrorist acts compared with 314 in 1996. The number of wounded also was down _ 693 last year compared with 2,912 the year before that. Colombia was the scene of more than one-third of all terrorist attacks last year worldwide.
Seven U.S. citizens died and 21 were wounded in 1997, compared with 23 dead and 510 wounded the previous year, the report said.
Of the 304 acts of international terrorism last year, about one-third were against U.S. targets, and most of those consisted of low-level bombings of multinational oil pipelines in Colombia. The attacks caused damage but no casualties. Colombian terrorists regard the pipelines as a U.S. target.
The most serious incident worldwide last year occurred in Egypt when terrorists killed 62 persons at a temple in Luxor, Egypt, in November, the study said.
The decline in terrorist incidents in recent years was attributed, in part, to the success of law enforcement agencies in tracking down those responsible and giving them severe prison terms.
According to the report, Iran was responsible for 13 assassinations in 1997 and remained the ``most active″ state sponsor of terrorism in 1997 despite a more conciliatory posture by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who was inaugurated last August.
Last year’s report held Iran responsible for eight assassinations in 1996. Iran’s targets normally are members of the regime’s main opposition groups, which operate in northern Iraq.
Iran is one of seven countries on the State Department list of nations that engage in state-sponsored terrorism. The others are Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The list is updated each January, and countries on it are, by law, deprived of certain economic benefits.