News of the murder of prominent Syrian Kurdish activist Mishaal al-Tammo comes on the back of several high-profile assassinations and attempts on the lives of public figures around the world in the last 12 months.

Masked gunmen shot dead Syrian Kurdish opposition figure Mishaal al-Tammo on October 7 after forcing their way into the activist's home in the city of Homs. Fingers have been pointed at the Syrian authorities amid fears that al-Tammo's death could prompt Kurdish uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, especially after at least six people were killed when security forces opened fire on mourners attending al-Tammo's funeral on October 8.

On October 5, officials announced the arrest of six people following an alleged al-Qaeda plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for the NDS, Afghanistan's intelligence services said the individuals "were introduced and recruited to al-Qaeda by Sayed Aqa, a religious teacher at Kabul university."

Former president and head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated by a Taliban bomber who detonated explosives hidden inside his turban on September 20. His death was widely interpreted as an incisive blow to the peace process in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the powerful half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was killed at home by a security guard on July 12 in an attack claimed to be perpetrated by the Talibabn. He was a highly controversial figure due to the number of corruption allegations against him and was the main political broker in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.

Less than a week after Ahmed Karzai's murder, Jan Mohammad Khan, a senior aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was killed in an attack on his home in Kabul on July 17. Khan was an important tribal elder and trusted ally of Hamid Karzai, but he was also a controversial figure accused of supporting local militias and abusing human rights.

On July 23, Iranian nuclear physicist Darioush Rezaie was shot dead by a motorcyclist in Tehran. Iran claimed Mossad, Israel's security services, were responsible for the attack.

Pakistani minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti was killed on March 2 by assassins who left leaflets signed 'Taliban al-Qaeda Punjab'. Bhatti, a Christian, had been vocal in his criticism of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

His killing was the second assassination of a politician in Islamabad over blasphemy in as many months.

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was shot dead by one of his bodyguards on 4 January. Taseer had been defending Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammed. He wrote on Twitter on 31 December 2010: "I was under huge pressure sure 2 cow down b4 rightist pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I'm the last man standing."