SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
It is not clear whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was able to sleep after he heard the news of the 24 Policemen slaughtered by the Maoists in the Elampatti-Regadgatta forests of the Dantewada District of Bastar Division in Chhattisgarh on July 9, 2007, but it is clear that this incident did not merit a public reaction from him [in contrast to his fervently articulated anguish over the suffering of the parents of Indian terrorists arrested in London and Australia]. This is unsurprising, considering the sheer frequency of such incidents. It is less than four months after 55 Policemen were massacred by the Maoists on March 15 at Rani Bodli in the Bijapur District, again in Bastar, and the Maoists have already butchered a total of 119 Security Force (SF) personnel in Chhattisgarh in 2007 (till July 15), in at least 31 significant attacks on the Forces. The Prime Minister of India cannot be expected to respond to so quotidian a succession of events.
Significantly, the total Maoist fatalities in Chhattisgarh in 2007 stood at 58 on July 15, yielding a SF:Maoist ratio of 1:0.487 – more than two SF personnel killed for each Maoist fatality. It must be abundantly clear where the initiative lies in the conflict in Chhattisgarh.
In the wake of the latest attack in the Elampatti-Regadgatta forests, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has informed the nation that "force alone cannot be a solution to end Naxalism" (Maoism). But the acute deficit of Force manifest in Chhattisgarh can hardly be part of the "holistic solution" that the Home Minister envisages. Even more, the total deficit of political and administrative will evident in every aspect of the counter-insurgency apparatus and action in the State cannot be part of any possible solution to a crisis that has augmented continuously since the creation of the Chhattisgarh State in 2000.
The growth of the Maoist power in Chhattisgarh has been systematic and entirely pre-planned, based on a tactical decision taken in December 1999 – January 2000 by the then-People’s War Group (PWG, now Communist Party of India – Maoist, since the PWG’s merger with the Maoist Communist Centre under this banner in September 2004), to permanently locate all important Party cadres in the forest areas of the Dandakaranya ‘Special Zone’ (DKSZ), prinicipally centering around the unsurveyed and near-impenetrable Abujhmadh Forest area in the Bastar Division (and overflowing into the Gadchiroli District of neighbouring Maharashtra). Abujhmadh has since been declared the Maoist’s ‘Central Guerilla Base Area’, and is the location where the Party Central Committee – including its ‘General Secretary’, Muppala Laxmana Rao @ Ganapathy – and its various formations take shelter. The objective is to transform the DKSZ into the country’s first ‘liberated area’ – an objective that is still far in the future, though increasing parts of the area have been brought under intensifying guerilla activity.
Seven years is a long time in a counterinsurgency context, but while the Maoists have been vigorously building their movement – now afflicting as many as 16 of Chhattisgarh’s 20 Police Districts – the state’s responses have been abysmal. Despite the hysteria that each major Maoist attack provokes, the tasks of capacity building for an effective response have been persistently neglected, and a blame game between the Centre and the State Government appears to be the principal element of the political response. At the end of these seven years of neglect, the ground situation in terms of the state’s capacities of response is deeply troubling.
For one, Force Deficits are endemic. The density of the police force in terms of both police strength/population and police strength/area ratios is poor, and well below the national average, and is woefully inadequate for the counter-insurgency needs of the State; indeed, it is insufficient even for normal law and order administration. Specifically, the all India average police-population ratio stands at 122 per 100,000 population. The UN norm for minimum police strength is about 222 per 100,000 (1:450). Most Western countries have ratios in the region of 250 to 500 per 100,000. Some Indian States also have very high ratios; e.g., Mizoram: 854/100,000; Sikkim: 609 per 100,000. By contrast, Chhattisgarh has a sanctioned strength of 103 per 100,000.
The crisis is compounded by an endemic gap between sanctioned strength and the force available, which varies between 20 per cent and over 50 per cent at various ranks, and even more in the Maoist affected areas, where the deficit at certain ranks may be as high as 79 per cent (e.g. at the rank of Sub-Inspectors in the Bastar Division, where only 8 of 38 sanctioned posts were filled at the end of 2006).
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for Chhattisgarh indicates that, in the ranks from Deputy Superintendent of Police to Senior Superintendent of Police, the deficit in Chhattisgarh (as on 31.12.2005) was 29.9 per cent (223/318); at the rank of Sub-Inspector (SI) and Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI), it was 36.6 per cent (1392/2194). Crucial posts in Naxalite affected areas have remained vacant for extended periods of time, while some such posts are held by unwilling or unsuitable officers who lack the profile and motivation necessary for effective counter-insurgency operations. As the data on police-population ratios indicates, sanctioned posts are themselves well below the needs of the State.
The ratio of Police personnel to the total Area of the State is also very poor, and is well below the national average. The all India average stands at 42 per 100 square kilometres. The figure for Chhattisgarh is just 17 per 100 square kilometres. The situation is worsened by a lopsided distribution of this Force. The situation in the Bastar Division – the heart of the violence in Chhattisgarh – is disturbing. For an area of 39,114 square kilometres, the five Police Districts of Bastar Division have a total sanctioned strength 2,197 policemen (5.62 policemen per 100 kilometres). Actual availability is just 1,389, nearly 37 per cent short of the authorized numbers, yielding a ratio of just 3.55 policemen per 100 square kilometres.
Efforts have been made to ‘fill’ this gap with deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs). However, the numbers available are a tiny fraction of the requirements of the State. Thus, some 85 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are currently available for the whole of Chhattisgarh. It is useful to note, here, that Manipur, a State of just about 2.4 million people, has a police-population ratio of 535 per 100,000, and in addition has almost 350 companies of Central Forces deployed for counter-insurgency operations in the State. Manipur’s geographical area (22,327 square kilometres) is just over half the Bastar Division (39,114 square kilometres). The population of Chhattisgarh, at nearly 21 million, is almost 9 times that of Manipur.
Worse, there are critical gaps between the deployment and employment even of this limited force. While some Force augmentation has occurred over the past year, the utilisation of this increased manpower is inefficient and often entirely unproductive. A bulk of the additional Force recruited within the State (Chhattisgarh Armed Force, CAF), over the past year, for instance, has been kept out of the areas of intensive conflict, and has been utilised in relatively ‘safe areas’. The Government of Chhattisgarh has set up a Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, which had, by February 2007, already trained at least 2,590 Police officers and men. A majority of these trained personnel are, however, deployed for a range of static duties and in urban areas, reflecting a tremendous waste of trained manpower.
In the Bastar Division a total of some 11 battalions of CPMFs – nine battalions of CRPF, one battalion Naga and one battalion Mizo – are currently deployed.
Of the total armed Force in Chhattisgarh – State and Central – no more that 1,800 to 2,000 personnel are engaged in offensive counter-terrorist operations. More than 80 per cent of this augmented force is deployed for passive defence, protecting Salwa Judum (the anti-Maoist ‘people’s’ movement) camps, important Government installations and projects, including road-building and the railways, and VIPs or others under threat.
Crucially, the available Force in the affected areas is simply too small even to protect itself – as has been evident in the numbers of successful attacks to which it has been subjected – leave alone act forcefully against the Maoists. In the Bastar Division, for instance, an additional Force of over 80 companies is required for the protection of existing Police Stations, Police Posts and important Government establishments and projects.
By and large, the State Police has tried to offload the bulk of counter-insurgency responsibilities onto the Central Forces, with no more than an estimated 300 State Police personnel actually deployed in offensive counter-insurgency operations. But Central Forces have obvious difficulties in operating in unfamiliar and difficult geographical and cultural terrain, and tend to be starved of adequate operational intelligence. The State’s Home Minister, Ram Vichar Netam has now conceded that the CRPF has "not proved very effective till now, they have not had any extraordinary results. You need to mix them up with the local police for effective policing." It is not clear what has prevented the Home Minister and the State Police from "mixing up" the local police with the CRPF till this point in time, or whether specific steps have now been taken for such operational integration..
Grave deficiencies of leadership also afflict the state, beyond the more obvious numerical deficits in Police leadership. The quality of senior officers in the State cadre, with occasional exception, is poor, and levels of motivation are low. The will to engage in counter-insurgency tasks is almost uniformly absent at the top levels of command. Most senior officers have spent their entire careers serving in a thinly administered area of what was earlier Madhya Pradesh (before 2000), with only minimal law and order management experience. These officers are not psychologically oriented to make the transition to a rigorous counter-insurgency role, and largely tend to evade responsibilities relating to counter-insurgency operations. Few officers are willing to accept postings in the affected areas and, at senior levels, few are even willing to tour the worst affected areas. The top Police leadership, consequently, remains overwhelmingly confined to Raipur.
In the absence of basic capacities and will, other innovations – including technical and technological ‘force multipliers’ – are destined to inevitable failure. Thus, the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to detect and help neutralize Maoist movements and concentrations in the forests has failed to produce the desired results. Unless followed up with immediate operational responses, the data generated through UAV monitoring is of little value. But with Forces principally moving about on foot, the capacity for such quick responses in the deep jungle are negligible. Worse, there is now evidence that UAV monitoring is being deliberately undermined by leaks from within the establishment. Indian Air Force (IAF) officers managing the UAV operations in the State have grounded their craft, complaining that ‘intelligence leaks on flight details’ had undermined the utility of the spy drones. Unnamed IAF officials have hinted at a ‘lack of will’ in the State Government and problems of coordination with the State Forces. In the initial months of UAV deployment, a number of Maoist ‘hotspots’ had been detected, but there were no follow-up operations by the Forces.
Some hare-brained schemes are now being conjured as a quick fix for the existing gaps, based on a questionable understanding of the ‘Andhra Model’ and the experience of the Greyhounds in that State. Reports suggest that ‘a dozen’ Quick Reaction Teams of ‘crack commandos’ are shortly to be deployed in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, to be ‘air dropped in dense forests… equipped with carbines, grenades, jungle knives and a week’ rations… Like the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh, their brief would be to launch swift guerrilla operations against the Maoists’. What is missed out here is that the Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh operate within a pervasive policing environment that has been systematically strengthened and that has established overwhelming capacities for containment of Maoist movement and operations. With small groups of Maoists dispersed over limited forest areas, and possessing relatively insignificant residual capacities for large scale resistance, these groups are vulnerable to focused attack by a highly trained and rapidly deployed force. Within an enveloping environment of the breakdown of policing, and dominance of wide areas, not only of the forests, but of extended contiguous zones, by the Maoists, and little capacity for immediate and massive reinforcement, a QRT dropped into a jungle would, in most cases, simply be overwhelmed and slaughtered.
At a par with this is the Chief Minister, Raman Singh’s repeated emphasis, over the past three months, of initiating a ‘dialogue’ with the Maoists. The Bharatiya Janata Party, to which the Chief Minister belongs, was one of the most vociferous critics of the disastrous ceasefire and negotiations with the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh in 2004. It appears that electoral considerations – Chhattisgarh goes to the polls in end 2008 – may tempt the State leadership to enter into an unprincipled and inevitably counter-productive deal with the Maoists, leading to further deferment of counter-insurgency operations against the rebels, and to a deeper consolidation of their forces across the State.
State Police sources estimate that the Maoists in Chhattisgarh have an armed cadre of over 5,000, equipped with sophisticated assault weapons, including AK-47 rifles, SLRs, machine guns, mortars, landmines and explosives. These ‘full-time revolutionaries’ are backed by at least 20,000 ‘people’s militia’ members, who are variously armed with SLRs, .303 rifles, ‘country made’ guns, and traditional weapons such as bows and arrows, and who have participated in the increasing numbers of ‘swarming attacks’ on SF units, posts and encampments. [Interestingly, Central agencies are currently and vigorously peddling the fiction that the total armed strength of the Maoists across India is just 4,000, with 4,100 weapons – if that was even remotely close to the truth, we would have little to worry about]. The strength of the sympathetic base on which this armed capacity is founded is difficult to estimate, but would obviously be substantial.
It must be abundantly clear that Chhattisgarh simply does not have even the numerical capacities to contain an insurgency of this magnitude. Worse, existing capacities remain enormously under-utilized and misdirected, and there is increasing evidence of a progressive collapse of political will at the highest levels of the State leadership to confront the challenge of the Maoist onslaught. Sadly, that means that many more SF personnel – thrown without plan, preparation or purpose into the conflagration – will fruitlessly lose their lives in the foreseeable future.
It can only be hoped that, eventually, someone, somewhere, in India’s corridors of power, will lose a little sleep over this as well.
A day after President Mahinda Rajapakse declared that the military had captured Thoppigala, the last remaining pocket of influence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the East that has been under its effective control since 1994, the outfit warned that it is aiming to cripple the country with major attacks on military and economic targets. In an interview on July 12, 2007, the LTTE political wing leader, S.P. Tamilselvan, declared,
The capital city of Colombo has long been a target of LTTE terrorist strikes, and is a natural object for this strategy of economic attrition. In the light of the severe reverses suffered by the LTTE in the East, consequently, there are apprehensions that the outfit will bring the war to the capital and target both civilian and Government establishments. The Government has, therefore, not only beefed up security to defend its forward defence lines in the operational areas, but also all potential political, military and economic targets in Colombo. In fact The Nation reported on July 1, 2007, that "Never before have security checks being so stringent in Colombo and the suburbs than during this past year."
According to Institute for Conflict Management data, while 10 persons – seven civilians, one security force (SF) trooper and two terrorists – were killed in 2005 in Colombo, the number of casualties increased to 50 – 25 civilians, 17 SF personnel and eight terrorists – in 2006. As on July 2, 2007, the death count for the current year was already 21, including 13 civilians and eight soldiers.
The first major LTTE attack in Colombo dates back to July 24, 1995, when 70 persons were killed and approximately 600 others injured as the LTTE bombed a passenger train. On January 31, 1996, 91 persons were killed in a truck bomb attack on the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Later, on October 15, 1997, 18 persons were killed as LTTE suicide bombers drove a truck packed with a large quantity of explosives into the twin tower World Trade Centre building.
The first major incident recorded in Colombo after the 2002 cease-fire agreement (CFA) was on July 7, 2004, when a suspected woman LTTE suicide bomber blew herself up at the Kollupitiya Police Station next to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister's official residence killing herself and four police personnel and injuring nine persons. Again, at least two persons were killed and 15 others wounded in a bomb blast at the end of a concert by Shahrukh Khan, an Indian film actor, in Colombo on December 11, 2004. The August 12, 2005, killing of the then Foreign Affairs Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, near his private residence on Bullers Lane was the first major political assassination after the CFA.
2006 witnessed a significant spurt in violence in Colombo. On April 25, 2006, the Army Commander, Lt. General Sarath Fonseka, was injured while eight persons were killed when a female suicide cadre of the LTTE, disguised as a pregnant woman, blew herself up in front of the military hospital inside the Army Headquarters. The attack on the Army Commander, many believe, and this was recently admitted by the Sri Lankan Government, really transformed the state’s policy towards the LTTE, tilting it towards a final assault against the rebels. Defense spokesperson and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella stated, on July 4, 2007, that, despite the LTTE’s highly provocative acts since the first Geneva talks in February 2006, the Government did not fire a single shot or violate the truce until the abortive attempt on Fonseka’s life; "Only then did the Government make a shift to use its military power, targeting the terrorists if national security is threatened."
A suicide bomber killed the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Parami Kulathunge, the third highest appointment in the SLA, and three others, at Pannipitiya, a Colombo suburb, on June 26, 2006. Kethesh Logananathan, Deputy Secretary-General of the Government's Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process and a former Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front member, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen near Vandervet place in Dehiwela on August 12, 2006. On December 1, 2006, in another suicide attack, the LTTE targeted the Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who is also the brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, at Dharmapala Mawatha, killing two soldiers and injuring 12 persons.
On March 26, 2007, the LTTE carried out their first ever air attack on the main Sri Lankan Air Force base in Katunayake at Colombo, killing three Air Force personnel and injuring 17. A light wing aircraft manned by the outfit dropped two bombs near the engineering section of the base. There were no damages to the fighter jets stationed at the Air Base. This, incidentally, is the same Air Base which a 14-member LTTE suicide squad attacked on July 24, 2001, destroying 11 aircraft and damaging three.
Again, on April 29, 2007, an LTTE aircraft bombed oil and gas storage facilities in and around Colombo. One of the two bombs dropped on Shell’s Muthurajawela Gas Storage Facility caused minor damage to the fire guard equipment while the other damaged the water supply. The two bombs dropped on the Kolonnawa Oil Storage Depot failed to explode.
On May 24, 2007, a suspected LTTE suicide bomber on an explosive-laden motorcycle rammed a bus carrying Army personnel on the First Cross Street in Colombo, killing two soldiers and wounding five persons. And on May 28, 2007, seven civilians were killed and 42 persons, including 36 civilians, sustained injuries, in an LTTE-triggered claymore mine explosion at Belekkade Junction in the Rathmalana area of the capital.
On June 1, 2007, Police seized a truck destined for Colombo, with 1,052 kilograms of C-4 explosives hidden under a pile of coconuts, at a Police Checkpoint in Kurunegala District. Later on June 10, Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka disclosed that the LTTE had sent another truck with over 1,000 kilograms of explosives into Colombo.
Amidst all these developments, the Colombo Police on June 7, 2007, started eviction of Tamils from the capital as part of a crackdown against the LTTE. 376 Tamil men, women and children, lodged in low-budget hotels, were forced out of their rooms, ordered into buses and driven off under armed escorts. Rohan Abeywardene, Inspector General of Police (IGP) for Colombo, later said the ethnic Tamils were being sent back to their own villages for their own safety amid a series of abductions blamed on state security services and the LTTE, and to avoid insurgents infiltrating the capital. On June 9, IGP Victor Perera stated that recent events had shown that the LTTE terrorists were operating without much difficulty in Colombo. The Government later apologized for the involuntary deportation of the Tamils, after the Supreme Court stepped in and criticized the move.
Colombo has a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population and, according to the 2001 Census, the Sri Lankan Tamil population in the Colombo Municipal Council limits was 29.7 per cent. The total population of Colombo District is 2,251,274, which comprises 1,724,459 (76.6 percent) Sinhalese, 247,739 (11 percent) Sri Lankan Tamil, 24,821 (1.1 percent) Indian Tamil and 11.3 percent of Sri Lanka Moor, Bergher, Malay and others (2001 Census).
Police sources have revealed that lodges in the Wellawatte, Bambalapitiya, Messenger Street, Pettah and Wattala areas of Colombo have provided safe havens to the LTTE. In Pettah alone, there are 68 lodges, owned by Tamils and catering to fellow Tamils from the North-East and from the tea plantations in Central Sri Lanka. Pettah is the city's main wholesale market and, traditionally, it has had a strong Tamil and Muslim presence. Tamil sources say that, on any day, there would be at least 5,000 Tamils from the North-East in the lodges in and around Colombo. Reiterating the allegation that the lodges were being used by the LTTE, Defence spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella said on June 26, "The primary investigations have revealed that the chief suspects of the Rajagiriya bomb case was residing in a lodge in Colombo. Experience in the past 10-years shows that LTTE operatives use the lodges in the city to stay and plan out terrorist strikes." He also disclosed that 90 per cent of the recent terrorism-related incidents in and around Colombo were hatched in these lodges.
Although the Government initially backed the Police action against the Tamil residents, it eventually had to retract following the Supreme Court’s interference on June 8, when the Court issued an injunction directing the Police to stop the evacuation of Tamils from Colombo’s lodges. Responding to a fundamental rights petition filed by the Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Chairman of the panel of Judges, Nimal E. Dissanayaka, said that the action was based on wrong advice. Subsequently, Prime Minister Wickramanayaka, on June 10, expressed regret over the eviction of Tamils from Colombo. Further on June 15, President Rajapakse, while regretting the eviction, stated further that the Government had to keep extra vigil over the lodges since almost all suicide bombers had operated from these.
It is not only the upsurge of violence in Colombo, but also the rampant occurrence of abductions and disappearances, which have attracted the Government’s attention towards the grim security scenario in the capital city. For instance, two Tamil members of the Red Cross from the east were abducted in the presence of their colleagues at Colombo’s main Fort Railway Station and their dead bodies were later recovered in the Kiriella area in Rathnapura District, far to the South East of Colombo.
The LTTE has, unsurprisingly, developed a deep network in Colombo and its suburbs. Colombo’s demographic composition with its large base of Sri Lankan Tamils, Hill country Tamil (Tamils of Indian Origin) and Muslim Tamils makes it relatively easy for the LTTE to infiltrate the city to carry out their subversive activities.
On June 4, 2007, the Government introduced a new security plan for Colombo city, dividing the capital into three security zones. Additional troops from the SLA and the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) have been deployed to check all vehicles and movement of civilians. Anti-aircraft guns have reportedly been fitted on top floors of about 58 storied buildings in Colombo to counter an LTTE aerial strike. Each key junction in Colombo is to be manned by SLA and SLN troops. According to Sunday Observer, many of the sleeper LTTE cadres waiting in Colombo and suburbs have had to flee the city, as they feared being arrested with the intensified surveillance in an around the capital after the revelation that many suicide cadres were waiting in the capital, disguised as Muslims, while engaged in various jobs under false identities. "Investigations revealed that the suicide cadre who made an attempt on the life of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa lived in Colombo for many years, disguised as a Muslim three-wheeler driver."
Despite these new measures being taken, it will be an uphill task for the Security Forces to completely secure Colombo, as the increasingly beleaguered LTTE certainly intensify efforts to strike at the heart of the country in order to draw attention of the international community. Such efforts are also intended to provoke the Government to take radical measures such as forcing Tamil civilians to leave Colombo, which, in one way or another, helps shore up the LTTE support base in the Tamil community, a base that has been shrinking over the years. Colombo, consequently, remains under and deeply vulnerable to imminent and intense threat of terrorist attack.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 9-15, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
* Official figures for the Lal Masjid operation have not enumerated any militants’ casualties.
Bangalore doctor Mohammed Haneef charged by Australian police of supporting a terrorist organization: Australian police on July 14, 2007, charged an Indian doctor allegedly connected to the failed car bombings in Britain with supporting terrorism. Australian Federal Police said they have charged Mohammed Haneef, who has been in custody since he was arrested trying to leave the country on July 2, 2007. "He has been charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation contrary to Section 102.7(2) of the Criminal Code Act 1995," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement. Police late on July 13 withdrew a request to a court to extend the period they could hold him without charge, giving them 12 hours to question him. Media reports said the charges alleged that Haneef had provided a mobile phone SIM card to members of a terrorist organisation. Haneef was arrested on a tip-off from British police in the eastern city of Brisbane after seven people, including at least four foreign doctors, were detained in Britain over three failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. Times of India, July 14, 2007.
Abducted Indian Government official and two ULFA militants killed in Assam: The abducted Food Corporation of India (FCI) official, P.C. Ram, was killed after being caught in an encounter between the security forces (SFs) and a group of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants at Borka-Panitema village in the Kamrup District on the night of July 12. The slain militants were identified as Rahul Deka alias Montu Gogoi alias Gautam Sarania, a ‘Sergeant Major’ of the ULFA’s 28th battalion hailing from Nalbari District, and Bullet Sangma of Naokata under Goreswar town. Police seized two AK-56 rifles, a pistol, a grenade, an improvised explosive device and a huge amount of ammunition from the slain militants. Ram was abducted by the ULFA from Guwahati city on April 17, 2007, and was later reported dead on June 30. However, on July 1, the ULFA claimed that the FCI official was alive and was in their captivity. Sentinel Assam, July 13, 2007.
24 security force personnel and 20 Maoists killed in Chhattisgarh: On July 9, 2007, at least 24 security force (SF) personnel and 20 cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) were killed in a gun battle in the dense forests of Dantewada District. "Sixteen Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, including an Assistant Commandant, Vijay Nandkishore Titre, six special police officers (SPOs) and two from Dantewada District forces were killed in the Elampatti-Regadgatta forest of Dantewada district, about 550 km from the state capital," said Chhattisgarh Director General of Police, Vishwaranjan. The dead bodies of all the 24 SF personnel were recovered in the Konta Block, according to Girdhari Nayak, Inspector General of Police (Operations). Police sources added that at least 20 Maoists were killed in the incident. However, none of their dead bodies has been recovered.Times of India, July 11, 2007.
47 people killed in two suicide attacks in NWFP: At least 47 people were killed and over a hundred injured in suicide bombings targeting security forces (SFs) in the Swat and Dera Ismail Khan Districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on July 15, 2007, in apparent revenge attacks by militants for the Lal Masjid operation. In the first attack, at least 13 SF personnel and six civilians, including three children, were killed and more than 50 people sustained injuries at Matta in the Swat district when two suicide bombers rammed two cars packed with explosives into an army convoy early in the morning. And at approximately 4:15pm (PST), a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Dera Ismail Khan Police Lines as candidates took Police entrance exams. Police official Safiullah disclosed that 26 people were killed, including 12 police personnel and the suicide bomber, and 61 others were wounded. Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao said the two attacks could be a militant response to the Lal Masjid assault. Jang; Daily Times, July 16, 2007.
Militants unilaterally scrap 10-month old peace accord in North Waziristan: Tribal militants in North Waziristan unilaterally scrapped their 10-month-old peace accord with the Government on July 15, 2007, on the expiry of a four-day deadline and threatened to launch attacks against the security forces in the area. Abdullah Farhad, a spokesman for the militants, said their Shura (council), under the leadership of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, had decided to end the peace accord and ordered their fighters to start guerrilla attacks against the troops deployed in North Waziristan. He said the Taliban fighters were advised not to launch attacks in populated areas so that civilians were saved from the consequences. The militants had threatened to end the accord by July 15 if the Pakistan Army troops redeployed at several roadside checkpoints in North Waziristan were not withdrawn. They termed it a violation of the peace accord signed on September 5, 2006. Jang, July 16, 2007.
24 soldiers killed in suicide attack in North Waziristan: A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a military convoy in the Daz Nerai area of North Waziristan on July 14, 2007, killing at least 24 soldiers and injuring 27 others. Pakistan's defence spokesperson, Major General Waheed Arshad disclosed that a car filled with explosives hit a military convoy, which was moving from Ramzak to Bannu in the North West Frontier Province. The Hindu, July 15, 2007.
102 people died in Lal Masjid operation, says Interior Minister: Federal Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao disclosed on July 13, 2007, that 102 persons lost their lives in the operation at Lal Masjid, including 91 civilians and 11 soldiers. He also said that four to five corpses have been identified as that of suspected foreign militants. Addressing a Press Conference in Islamabad, he said 248 people sustained injuries in the operation. However, Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah told reporters after the Minister’s Press Conference that "In the final assault, some 75 people were killed in the complex and I think 50 to 60 were militants and the rest were women and children." Earlier on July 10, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, deputy chief cleric of the Lal Masjid, was among dozens killed as Pakistan Army commandos stormed the mosque compound after a weeklong standoff with militant students. More than 50 militants and nine soldiers were killed in the 15-hour operation, which commenced shortly before dawn on July 10, said Major General Arshad Waheed, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Ghazi had claimed to a television channel on July 8 that 335 people had already been killed within the Complex. The final assault by Government Forces was reportedly approved after talks between a delegation of ministers and clerics led by Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain failed to negotiate a surrender with Ghazi. Dawn; Daily Times, July 11-14, 2007.
Al Qaeda urges revenge over Lal Masjid issue: Al Qaeda’s second-in command, Ayman al Zawahri, in an internet video posted on July 11, 2007, called for revenge over the Pakistani military’s operation that killed more than 70 militants inside the Islamabad-based Lal Masjid. "This crime can only be washed by repentance or blood," Zawahri said in the video posted on web sites used by Islamists. "If you do not retaliate ... (President General Pervez) Musharraf will not spare any of you," he said, addressing Pakistani Muslims and their clerical leaders. Daily Times, July 12, 2007.
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil in protective custody in Islamabad: The Government on July 10, 2007, took Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, chief of the banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), into protective custody after the death of Abdur Rashid Ghazi. "Fazlur Rehman Khalil has been taken into protective custody at his residence-cum-Madrassa in Islamabad in view of the security situation," sources told Daily Times. Khalil was a close aide of Ghazi and had reportedly played a crucial role in the failed talks between the Government and Lal Masjid administration on the night of July 10. Sources added that Khalil was taken into protective custody to avoid a backlash following Ghazi’s death. They also said Farooq Kashmiri, another militant commander, who was called in from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) two days ago, was already in the government’s custody. Daily Times, July 11, 2007.
Military captures Thoppigala: President Mahinda Rajapakse declared on July 11, 2007, that the military had captured Thoppigala, the last remaining pocket of influence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the East that has been under its effective control since 1994. "I join the people in offering tribute and all good wishes to the members of the Armed Forces, Police and Special Task Force who, through their participation in the humanitarian exercise to free the people of the East from the clutches of terrorism, captured the last stronghold of the terrorists located at Thoppigala," the President said. Meanwhile, hours after losing Thoppigala, the LTTE, while acknowledging the capture by Government troops, said that it will not be easy to hold the area in the future. The outfit’s spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said, "They (Government Forces) may have captured the area, but the question is whether they can hold it." The Hindu; Colombo Page, July 14, 2007.