Trends and Characteristics of Terrorist Attacks Against Nightclub Venues over 5 Decades

Grace R. Rahman, Stephen Y. Liang, Linlin Tian, Steve S. Sin, Gregory N. Jasani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Nightclubs are entertainment and hospitality venues historically vulnerable to terrorist attacks. This study identified and characterized terrorist attacks targeting nightclubs and discotheques documented in the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) over a 50-y period. Methods: A search of the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) was conducted from 1970 to 2019. Precoded variables for target type business and target subtype entertainment/cultural/stadium/casino were used to identify attacks potentially involving nightclubs. Nightclub venues were specifically identified using the search terms club, nightclub, and discotheque. Two authors manually reviewed each entry to confirm the appropriateness for inclusion. Descriptive statistics were performed using R (3.6.1). Results: A total of 114 terrorist attacks targeting nightclub venues were identified from January 1, 1970, through December 31, 2019. Seventy-four (64.9%) attacks involved nightclubs, while forty (35.1%) attacks involved discotheques. A bombing or explosion was involved in 84 (73.7%) attacks, followed by armed assault in 14 (12.3%) attacks. The highest number of attacks occurred in Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. In total, 284 persons died, and 1175 persons were wounded in attacks against nightclub venues. Conclusions: While terrorist attacks against nightclub venues are infrequent, the risk for mass casualties and injuries can be significant, mainly when explosives and armed assaults are used.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
StatePublished - Jan 30 2024


  • disaster medicine
  • discotheque
  • emergency preparedness
  • nightclub
  • terrorism


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