WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- The United States saw more hate crimes in 2016 than the previous year, but experts said the problem may be bigger than the number indicated.
The total number of hate crimes in 2016 was 6,121, with an increase of 4.6 percent, compared with 5,850 in 2015, according to new data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday.
Those criminal incidents, the report said, were motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, or gender identity.
According to the data, the number of hate crimes increased for a second consecutive year, and most were "single-bias incidents."
Hate crime victims, explained the FBI, can be individuals, businesses, government entities, religious organizations, or society as whole, and they can be committed against persons, property, or society.
Of those single-bias offenses in 2016, nearly 58 percent were motivated by race, ethnicity or ancestry bias, while 21 percent were driven by religious bias and about 18 percent were caused by sexual orientation bias.
More than half of the race-related incidents were anti-black, while some 20 percent were anti-white, the FBI's data showed. Furthermore, over half of the religion-related offenses were anti-Jewish, while a quarter were anti-Muslim.
"No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, or how they worship," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement after the statistics were released.
The FBI report is based on voluntary reporting by over 15,000 local law enforcement agencies.
But some suggested the FBI figures were incomplete as nearly 90 cities with populations of over 100,000 either reported no zero hate crimes or did not submit data for 2016.
"There's a dangerous disconnect between the rising problem of hate crimes and the lack of credible data being reported," Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement Monday.
He also called for "all-hands-on-deck" approach to acquire better nation-wide figures on the problem.
Sim Singh, the national advocacy manager of the Sikh Coalition, said the FBI statistics "represents the tip of the iceberg."
Singh said it will be hard for the country to mobilize political will and resources necessary to address the issue if law enforcement agencies fail to document true extent of hate crimes.
Earlier this year, then FBI Director James Comey said the agency must "do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime, to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it."
"Hate crime is different from other crime," Comey said in May. "They strike at the heart of one's identity -- they strike at our sense of self, our sense of belonging. The end result is loss -- loss of trust, loss of dignity, and in the worst case, loss of life."