Afghanistan & Pakistan Violent Event Analysis using ACLED and WikiLeaks Data

ACLED Manuscript


The Afghanistan-Pakistan Wars 2008–2009: Micro-geographies, Conflict Diffusion, and Clusters of Violence

John O'Loughlin, Frank Witmer, and Andrew Linke
Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2010, 51 No.4, pp.437-71.

Abstract: A team of political geographers analyzes over 5,000 violent events collected from media reports for the Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts during 2008 and 2009. The violent events are geocoded to precise locations and the authors employ an exploratory spatial data analysis approach to examine the recent dynamics of the wars. By mapping the violence and examining its temporal dimensions, the authors explain its diffusion from traditional foci along the border between the two countries. While violence is still overwhelmingly concentrated in the Pashtun regions in both countries, recent policy shifts by the American and Pakistani governments in the conduct of the war are reflected in a sizeable increase in overall violence and its geographic spread to key cities. The authors identify and map the clusters (hotspots) of conflict where the violence is significantly higher than expected and examine their shifts over the two-year period. Special attention is paid to the targeting strategy of drone missile strikes and the increase in their number and geographic extent by the Obama administration.

High-resolution pdf (17 MB).

Low-resolution pdf (3 MB).


WikiLeaks Manuscript


Peering into the Fog of War: The Geography of the WikiLeaks Afghanistan War Logs 2004-2009

John O'Loughlin, Frank Witmer, Andrew Linke, and Nancy Thorwardson
Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2010, 51 No.4, pp.472-95.

Abstract: A team of U.S. political geographers analyzes the secret Afghanistan war logs released by They offer the chance to examine in detail the dynamics of the conflict in that country. Doing so in a spatial framework is possible because each of the 77,000 events has geographic coordinates and dates. Using cartographic and geostatistical tools, the authors map the changing distribution of the events and compare them to the well-known violent-events ACLED database (see O’Loughlin et al., 2010 in this issue). They conclude that ACLED comprises a representative set of the more comprehensive data in the released files. The released war logs show that the Afghan insurgency spread rapidly in 2008–2009, that the insurgency is moving out of its traditional Pashtun heartlands, and remains mostly rural in location. Hotspot and cluster analysis identifies the key locations of the current war, which indicate that it is relocating to new provinces in Afghanistan while intensifying in the eastern border regions and in the south.

High-resolution pdf (14 MB).

Low-resolution pdf (1 MB).