Terrorism Update
Show/Hide Search
    Click to Enlarge

Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 1, No. 18, November 18, 2002

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal


Nepal: Fatalities in Major Clashes between Security Forces and Maoist Insurgents,
November 23, 2001 to November 16, 2002

Security Forces
Maoist Insurgents
November 23
Putalibazzar, Syangjha district.
November 24
Ghorai Army barracks
November 25
November 28-29
Salyan district
December 1-2
Solokhumbu district
December 8-9
Ratmate Army formation, Rolpa district
January 27
Sankranti Bazaar, Terhathum district
February 4
Bhakundebeshi police station, Kavre district
February 16
Sanphebagar airport, Accham district; Army barracks, Mangelsen town
February 20
Acham, Doti, Kailali and Dailekh districts
February 21
Sitalpati police station, Salyan district
February 21
Surkhet district
February 23
Kalikot district
March 13
Sanghachowk, 40km away from capital Kathmandu
March 17
Insurgents' training camp, Gumsa, Rolpa district
March 25
April 7
Kothiyaghat jungles, Bardia
April 11
Satbaria and Lamahi police outposts, Dang
April 14
Dang-Pyuthan border
April 27
May 2
Dhagal, Dang-Kailali districts border
May 2-5
Maoist training camp, Lisne jungles
May 7-8
Security force base camp, Gam village, Rolpa
May 27
Security force base camp, Khara, Rukum district
June 12
Damachour, Salyan district
August 20
Thawang village, Rolpa
September 7
Bhiman police post, Sindhuli district
September 8
Sandhikharka, Argakanchi district
September 23
October 27
Rumjatar airport and district police office, Okhaldunga district
November 14
Jumla district
November 14
Gorkha district

     Compiled from official sources and the English language media in Nepal



Democracy Recedes Amidst Slaughters
Guest Writer: Deepak Thapa
Kathmandu-based Journalist and Editor

On the night of November 14, Nepal's Maoist guerillas struck in force once again, this time in simultaneous attacks on an isolated police outpost in Gorkha district, west of Kathmandu, and a full-scale attack on Khalanga, the district headquarters of Jumla near the tri-junction of Nepal, China and India in the remote northwestern zone of Karnali.

The twin attacks left at least 70 people dead, including 61 security force personnel. Casualties on the rebel side are reported to have run into the hundreds. The attack killed the chief district officer of Jumla, the top civil servant of the district, and two deputy superintendents of police. The Khalanga assault was the fourth one on a district headquarters, and comes two years after the Maoists overran the headquarters of a neighbouring district. Both districts lie to the north of the Maoist stronghold in the hills of western Nepal.

Unlike the earlier attacks, the company-strength army post stationed there was able to ward off a total rout. However, the Maoists managed to destroy the airport, set fire to all the government buildings and make off with a substantial amount of cash and jewellery looted from the local bank and ordinary citizens.

The attacks came a day after a three-day countrywide shutdown called by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). On the concluding day of the strike, the Maoist leadership had claimed in a statement that the 'success' of the strike had shown that the people were with them and reiterated their three key demands - a roundtable conference of all political forces, an interim government and elections to a constituent assembly. The statement had warned that unless there were some positive moves to find a political solution, they would continue with their movement, including 'people's resistance'.

The call for the November 11-13 strike had originally been planned to disrupt the parliamentary elections originally scheduled for November 13. The sacking of Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, and assumption of executive authority by King Gyanendra on October 4 had postponed the polls indefinitely. But the Maoists, who described the king's action as a 'retrogressive step', went ahead with it anyway, calling it the beginning of a 'united people's resistance campaign' against the king.

The new government, headed by royal-appointee Lokendra Bahadur Chand, is still facing a crisis of political acceptance. The manner in which the government was constituted by the king on October 11 has come under considerable flak from constitutional experts. On the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 1990 Constitution on November 9, a group of eight well-known public figures, including three members of the Constitution Drafting Committee, questioned the present government's legitimacy. Their joint statement asked either for the reinstatement of the parliament dissolved earlier in May, or a resort to 'interim arrangements' that would restore the paramountcy of the people's sovereign rights. The 'interim arrangements', they said, should also include the Maoists.

For its part, the government has maintained that it has opened the doors for talks, and has even authorised a committee of human rights activists to make contact with the rebels on its behalf. But the Maoists too have questioned the government's legal status and have indicated that any negotiations would have to have the king's participation. A statement on October 24 from the Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (CPN-M) chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', called for a 'political exit' to the present impasse through a dialogue among all political forces, including the king, and for which the king would have to initiate the first steps. That statement was remarkable for the absence of anti-monarchy rhetoric and was viewed as a possible opening for talks. But, two weeks later came the dampener, as the Maoists resumed their previous stance on the monarchy. The convener of what is known to be the Maoists' central government, the United People's Revolutionary Council, Baburam Bhattarai, appealed to all parliamentary and non-parliamentary forces in a broad united front against the 'feudal monarchy'.

The country's two major political parties, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML)) have so far steered clear of joining the government despite exhortations from the Prime Minister. The two parties are agreed on the unconstitutionality of the king's October 4 action, but differ on how it can be 'rectified'. The Nepali Congress wants the parliament reinstated, which would put it in a strong position to form the government again, while the CPN-UML, which was the main opposition in parliament, prefers the king to hand over the executive power to the cabinet as a prelude to their entering the Chand cabinet. Leaders of the two parties are known to have restated their positions to King Gyanendra, who has begun a series of consultations with leaders of political parties to seek a way out of the present political crisis.

Apart from this difference both parties agree on the need to bring the Maoist issue to a close through peace talks. That is a view that is increasingly gaining acceptance. The army has been out for almost a year now, but it does not seem to have made a significant dent in the Maoists' military capability. The rebels have certainly received setbacks, most recently in a late October attack on an army contingent guarding an airport in eastern Nepal. But although the army continues to notch up an average of 10 'Maoists' a day, given factors like the terrain, the small numbers the Army can mobilise on the ground, lack of local support and the widespread nature of rebel operations, the military does not seem likely to achieve a significant victory any time soon.

The Maoists too have said that they are ready for a dialogue if the government is committed to a political solution. On the day of the simultaneous attacks in Gorkha and Jumla, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a top Maoist leader and known hardliner, speaking in an interview broadcast over CNN, blamed the government for the present standoff. He said that the rebels were ready to declare a ceasefire if there were positive indications. Otherwise, however, he warned ominously, 'this war will be a historical and decisive one'.



Peace Negotiations: Accommodating Muslim Fears
Guest Writer: G.H. Peiris
Senior Professor, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and Senior Fellow, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Since the commencement in last December of attempts to resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict through peaceful means, Sri Lankan Muslims have assumed an important 'third party' role in the related political processes, including the formal negotiations that began in September 2002 between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Muslims account for about seven per cent of Sri Lanka's total population. About 30 per cent of their total number lives in large clusters falling within the Eastern Province. The others constitute small communities scattered throughout the country with the exception of the northern areas.

Rauff Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), was one of the main government delegates at the two negotiation sessions hitherto conducted, but political spokespersons for the Muslims, including those of the SLMC, have made it clear that their support to the peace process was conditional on adequate attention being devoted by both the government and the LTTE to the needs and aspirations of the Muslims, especially those from the northern and eastern parts of the island that are claimed by the LTTE as the 'Traditional Homeland' of the Tamils.

The stand taken by the Muslim spokespersons in the current peace process is distinctive as compared to the experiences of previous spells of negotiation (in 1985, 1989-90 and 1994-95). The earlier negotiations focused exclusively on contentious issues between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, with hardly any reference to the interests of the Muslims and with the leaders of the Muslim community opting to maintain a low profile.

The principal demand of the Eastern Province Muslims, articulated mainly through the SLMC, is that any compromise worked out to meet the LTTE claim for autonomy to the entire 'north-east' as a single unit, either in an interim administration or as a permanent constitutional reform, for devolution of government power should be accompanied by an arrangement facilitating self-government for those inhabiting the main Muslim areas in that part of the country. Since the demand is being backed by a boycott of parliament by nine Muslim Members of Parliament (MPs), all of who are members of the United National Front government, it has created an unforeseen dilemma for the government. This stems, on the one hand, from the government's existing (implicit) commitment to the principle of an LTTE-dominated interim administration for the entirety of the 'north-east'; and, on the other, from the fact that, in the event of the dissident Muslim MPs leaving the ranks of the ruling coalition on this issue, they could precipitate a major change in the parliamentary balance of power and, possibly, a collapse of the government.

Two sets of considerations stand out most prominently as explanations for the circumspection and the assertiveness displayed by the Muslim leaders in relation to the on-going negotiations. The first of these relates to the nature of Tamil-Muslim relations in the 'north-east', particularly in the Eastern Province. The second stems from cleavages within the SLMC.

The coastal lowlands of the Eastern Province have hardly ever been entirely free of localised friction between the Tamils and the Muslims constituting, in their aggregate numbers, 42 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, of the total population of the province. These, it must be remembered, are areas of excessively high population density, in which residential loci of one community are juxtaposed with those of the other in an intricate and closely entwined micro-spatial mosaic. The eastern lowlands are also characterised by resource scarcity, agrarian unrest, and poverty, and hence, frequent interpersonal disputes with communal undertones.

This was the demographic and socio-economic setting in which several Tamil militant groups began to build a support base among those of their own community in the early 1980s. At that stage, evidently in response to harassment by the Tamil militants, the Muslims of their larger communities also attempted to form armed groups, and did achieve some success in their attempt. Thus, for example, in the Allai area (south of Trincomalee harbour), an armed group, which called itself the 'Jihad Movement', is said to have gathered a small but ardent following. Again, in coastal Ampara (southern parts of the Eastern Province), a movement referred to as 'Al Fatah' mobilised some support among Muslim youth. These, however, soon succumbed under the weight of the overwhelmingly more powerful Tamil militants.

Following the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, the SLMC (which, by that time, had emerged as the foremost political party in the Eastern Province) decided to abide by the Accord and to collaborate with the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) in its attempts to restore normalcy in the 'north-east'. Observers believe that it was at this point that the LTTE turned its wrath in earnest against the Muslims in this part of the country.

Following the withdrawal of the IPKF from Sri Lanka in the early months of 1990 and the concurrent emergence of the LTTE as the most powerful among the separatist groups, Muslim communities in the Eastern Province became the target of large-scale LTTE attacks. These evidently represented an attempt at 'ethnic cleansing' of the 'Traditional Tamil Homeland'. Several gruesome massacres of Muslim civilians, each involving death tolls exceeding a hundred, were carried out by LTTE cadres, resulting in mass evacuation of certain localities by the Muslims. By January 1991, about 350,000 Muslims had been displaced from their villages and towns of the Eastern Province. In October 1990, the LTTE also evicted en masse all Muslims (total number estimated at about 70,000) from the Northern Province. Though the policy of 'ethnic cleansing' appears to have been abandoned since that time, LTTE attacks sporadically targeted the Muslims, mainly for their suspected collaboration with armed forces of the government, throughout the 1990s.

The experience in the Eastern Province, since the commencement of current negotiations, has not allayed Muslim fears. Throughout, there have been clashes between the LTTE cadres and Muslim civilians, triggered off mainly by Muslim resistance to extortion. Among the major confrontations this year, each of which lasted over several days, were those at Muttur in February; Valachennai in June; and Akkaraipatu in October. In the Northern Province, the LTTE has continued to resist the return of Muslims who were evicted in 1990. Current media reports indicate that LTTE extortion (now being referred to as 'taxation') in the east has acquired an increased intensity, and that the LTTE network of 'police stations', initiated in early 2002, has now been extended to the east in the face of Muslim protests.

In the longer term, Muslim fears of becoming a beleaguered minority in the entire country have been reinforced by several brief localised Sinhalese-Muslim clashes of the recent past - in the township of Mawanella in May 2001; and in northern Colombo in October 2002. There is, in addition, the long-standing dispute in the interior of the Eastern Province concerning an alleged encroachment by the Muslims of land belonging to an ancient Buddhist temple.

The boycott of Parliament by nine Muslim members from the east ended on November 14, 2002, following a formal assurance by Prime Minister Wickremasinghe to accord priority to their main demands. On the eve of their return to Parliament, however, their spokesperson Anwer Ismail, ruled out any possibility of cohabitation between the Muslims and the Tamils under an LTTE-led interim administration in the 'north-east'.

The vehemence of the Muslim agitation for self-government in their main population clusters of the Eastern Province could also be attributed in part to the factional cleavages within the SLMC. Rauff Hakeem's grip on his party, it should be noted, is much weaker than that of his predecessor, the late M.H.M. Ashraff. In this context it is necessary to recapitulate that:

  1. the origin of the SLMC in 1981 represented the fruition of an idea that had gained currency among Muslims of the Eastern Province that their interests have tended to be neglected by the leaders of their community (drawn from an affluent elite in the urban areas elsewhere in the country);
  2. SLMC's main support base has continued to remain in the east; and
  3. Hakeem, being a Muslim from the highlands, does not command extensive personal support among the Eastern Province Muslims. Though, as Ashraff's deputy, this suave and astute politician did perform an invaluable role in extending the SLMC electoral base to the Muslim communities in certain Sinhalese-majority areas outside the east, it seems that he is no longer of much use to his party stalwarts in the Eastern Province. Indeed, at a press interview during the parliamentary boycott by his nine colleagues, Hakeem himself admitted that ever since he took over the leadership of the SLMC, there have been moves (within the party) to portray him as " ... an outsider who does not understand the dynamics of Muslims in the Eastern Province".
  4. In addition to the dissidents within the party, there is Ashraff's widow, Ferial, presently a member of the parliamentary opposition, waiting to step in daintily into Hakeem's shoes in the event of his being dislodged.

Under the circumstances, it is not clear how the clashing aspirations and apprehensions of Sri Lanka's Muslims will be reconciled within the present negotiation process that seeks to bring peace to the fractured island nation.


Weekly Fatalities: Major conflicts in South Asia
November 11-17, 2002

Security Force Personnel
Jammu & Kashmir
Left-wing Extremism
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Government to probe India's charges on terrorist camps: Foreign Secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury told the media on November 14, 2002, that the Bangladesh government has decided to probe India's claims that terrorist groups based in its Northeastern States are securing shelter and support in Bangladesh. Daily Star News, November 15, 2002


All political prisoners to be released, says J&K Chief Minister Sayeed: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said in Srinagar on November 13, 2002, that the State government would not give up the process of releasing all political prisoners in order to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue. According to him, "It is a matter of our policy and common minimum programme to release all the political prisoners in the State. We are bound to implement the policy. We have initiated the process and it will go on." Daily Excelsior, November 14, 2002.

Eight SF personnel killed in IED blast in J&K: Eight security force (SF) personnel were killed and six others injured when unidentified terrorists blasted a bus with a remote-controlled Improvised Explosive Device (IED) near Banihal on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), on November 11, 2002. According to official sources, Road Opening Parties (ROPs) are frequently pressed into service on the highway, especially in the terrorism-prone area of the 41-km stretch between Banihal and Ramban. Sources added that the IED was planted after the ROP passed by and was detonated from a nearby area. Daily Excelsior, November 12, 2002.

JKLF chief released by J&K government: Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik was released on November 11, 2002, by the J&K government after eight months in detention. Malik was released from the high security Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu after a court granted him parole. Malik, an Executive Committee member of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), was arrested on March 25 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 (POTA). He was later released in July but was immediately re-arrested under the Public Safety Act that provides for detention for two years without trial. Daily Excelsior, November 12, 2002.

Seven left wing extremists killed in Andhra Pradesh: Seven left wing extremists -- Naxalites of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) Janashakti (Veeranna) faction -- were killed during an encounter with the police in the Lenkalagadda village, Karimnagar district, in the State of Andhra Pradesh on November 11, 2002. Official sources said that the encounter ensued after a special police party spotted a 15-member Naxal dalam (squad) armed with sophisticated weapons near the village. Deccan Chronicle, November 12, 2002.


121 Maoist insurgents, 60 SF personnel confirmed dead in clashes in Jumla and Gorkha: Intense clashes were reported between the security forces and Maoist insurgents in Jumla and Gorkha, on November 14, 2002. Maoists, numbering into several hundreds, reportedly attacked the Jumla airport and later two police establishments and other government offices at the district headquarters. Chief District Officer of Jumla, Damodar Pant, and two civilians died in the assault, reports added. 71 insurgents were confirmed dead and, reportedly, 300 more are feared dead. 33 police personnel, too, were killed in these clashes. In the clashes in Gorkha, 23 police personnel and at least 66 Maoist insurgents have been confirmed killed. Nepal News, November 15, 2002.


Anti-terrorism law amended: The Federal government has amended the anti-terrorism law allowing the police to detain terror suspects for up to a year without charges. The amendment ordinance was reportedly approved by the Federal Cabinet in October but was formally issued on November 17, 2002, and has come into effect immediately. The amended law empowers the government to order the arrest of a suspect and extend the detention period from time to time without charging the suspect "for a total period not exceeding 12 months." Hitherto, security agencies could detain terror suspects for up to three months without filing any charges. Under the amended law, security agencies have been authorized to probe the assets and bank accounts of their spouses, children and parents. Further, even after release on bail, the suspects would be prohibited from visiting public places such as movie halls, airports, parks, train stations or hotels. Suspects have been given the right to challenge their detention in court, which would then have to decide on the matter within 30 days. Jang, November 18, 2002.

US executes Aimal Kasi for 1993-killing of CIA employees: Pakistani terrorist Mir Aimal Kasi, convicted for the 1993 killing of two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees in front of the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, was executed at the Virginia state prison on November 14, 2002. Earlier, Virginia Governor Mark Warner refused Kasi's request for clemency after the US Supreme Court denied a last-minute appeal for a stay on the execution. Kasi's family and the Pakistani government had asked for his sentence to be commuted on humanitarian grounds. Jang, November 15, 2002.


Premier Wickremasinghe assures Muslims of security and protection of interests: Rebel Members of Parliament (MP) of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress gave up the one and a half month-long boycott of Parliament on November 13, 2002, following an assurance by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe on providing security to the Muslim community in the East and safeguarding their interests. The Premier has promised to establish a special body comprising all Muslim majority divisions in the East in consultation with the rebel MPs. He added that Muslims would have the freedom to determine their affairs without any interference or hindrance. Daily News, November 14, 2002.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.


South Asia Intelligence Review [SAIR]

K. P. S. Gill

Dr. Ajai Sahni

To receive FREE advance copies of SAIR by email Subscribe.

Recommend South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) to a friend.






Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved.