SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) heralded a new phase of its activities in Jhakhand by claiming responsibility for the March 5, 2007, killing of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Member of Parliament (MP) Sunil Mahato. In what appeared to be a mere bravado at that point of time, the outfit’s spokesperson, on March 19, 2007, vowed to take the ‘revolution’ from its current ‘guerrilla warfare phase’ in Jharkhand – in which the group fights for ‘area domination’ by escalating levels of violence – to the stage of ‘mobile warfare’ – in which the extremists actually control ‘liberated areas’, over the succeeding months. While no ‘liberated areas’ have yet been carved out, it is clear that a strategy of augmenting violence has, indeed, taken shape in the State. Worse, there is no denying the fact that the state’s anti-Maoist campaign is currently on the backfoot and, as the fatalities index indicates, there is little effort on the part of the Security Forces (SFs) to seek contact and engage with the rebels.Insurgency related fatalities in Jharkhand: 2006-2007
* MHA Data till July 31, 2007
Source: Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
** Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) provisional Data from August 1, 2007 – December 9, 2007.
Data on insurgency related killings serve as a ready reckoner. According to Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), compared to 144 fatalities in 2006, Jharkhand recorded 80 fatalities in 2007 (till July 31) and conservative provisional estimates by the Institute for Conflict Management (based on open-source monitoring) suggest a minimum of at least another 62 fatalities between August and December 9, 2007. State Police sources, however, indicate that over 150 extremism-related fatalities had already occurred in Jharkhand by the end of November. The trend of unabated extremism was confirmed by the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on November 21, when he admitted that Left Wing extremism-related incidents in Jharkhand has already gone up by 50 percent in the current year, as compared to 2006.
State Police sources indicate that 18 of a total of 24 Districts are affected by varying degrees of Left Wing extremism and violence. Over the last two years, however, Maoist activities, if not violence, have been reported form at least 23 Districts in the State. At present, 14 Districts are ‘highly affected’, four Districts ‘moderately affected’ and five ‘marginally affected’. The areas where Maoist dominance was at its peak in 2007 include the Santhal Pargana, comprising the eastern Districts of Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Pakaur and Sahibganj, which share borders with Bihar and West Bengal. Conservative estimates by intelligence sources in the State indicate that nearly 1,200 of the 4,564 panchayats (village level local administration) in the State are under the complete influence of the Maoists. The Maoists are, in fact, in a position to dictate the electoral outcome in over 30 percent of the State’s Assembly constituencies, particularly in Palamu, Giridih, Chatra, Koderma, Gumla, Lohardaga, Garhwa and parts of Ranchi Districts. In as many as 15 Districts, large areas have been converted into ‘guerrilla zones’, where the writ of the Maoist People’s Guerrilla Army (PGA) dominates. The rebels have raised ‘police’, ‘judicial’ and ‘administrative’ wings to run a parallel administration in these areas, which they are seeking to re-designate as ‘liberated zones’.
The disruptive capacities of the Maoists over an overwhelming proportion of the State’s geographical expanse has allowed them to carry out selective killings of civilians, politicians and their relatives, who are regarded as inimical to the group’s interests. These targeted killings at least partly explain the high proportion of civilian fatalities in the State in 2007. These killings included at least two high profile targets in 2007, including that of JMM MP Sunil Mahato, who the Maoist’s claimed was attacked because of his involvement in the Nagrik Suraksha Samiti (NSS, the Citizens’ Defence Council), an anti-Maoist state sponsored movement. The second important attack was the October 26 killing of former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi’s son, Anup, in Chilkhari village of Giridih District, along the Bihar-Jharkhand border. The Maoists described this latter strike as a ‘case of mistaken identity’, with their spokesperson subsequently stating, "Our main target was Nunulal Marandi, the brother of Babulal Marandi. Nunulal was instrumental in the killing of several CPI-Maoist members and he has been raising his voice against our revolutionary movement." In addition, more than 20 alleged ‘police informers’ have been killed by the Maoists since 2006 in different parts of the State.
Official estimates of the ‘hardcore’ armed Maoist cadres in Jharkhand suggest a threefold increase from about 100 to over 300 over the 2005-2007 period, and a tremendous expansion of mass mobilisation and front organisation activities across the State, creating a wider ‘militia’ and sympathiser base. Jharkhand witnessed at least three operations involving CPI-Maoist’s people’s militia during 2007. On February 5, a civilian was killed and two others injured, when an estimated 200 Maoist cadres attacked an SF picket at Lawalong in the Chatra District. On April 6, six people, including two SF personnel, were killed when about 300 CPI-Maoist cadres attacked a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) camp and the adjoining Gandhinagar Police Station building in the Bokaro Thermal Power city area of Bokaro District. On August 6, over a hundred Maoists attacked the Chainpur Police Station in the Gumla District, without inflicting significant damage, in the face of stiff SF resistance.
There are also clear indications of an abundance of weaponry with the Maoists, who have secured access to a profusion of land mines, which have been used to great effect on both tarred and un-tarred roads to target SF contingents. Landmine explosions have resulted in at least 170 SF fatalities since 2001, and a wide range of sophisticated devices have been used, including Claymore mines, as well as camera flash , mobile phone and radio signal detonation devices. Reports indicate that State Police personnel have stopped long range night patrolling due to the landmine threat.
Finances have never been a constraint on Maoist activities in the State. Jharkhand’s forest and mineral resources and related industries provide an almost limitless source of extorted revenues. Jharkhand Police documents suggest that a section of contractors, transporters and businessmen involved in illegal mining pay over INR 400 million annually as ‘levy’ to the CPI-Maoist in the State. Another lucrative source has been the ongoing Centre’s Golden Quadrilateral road building project. Extortion from the common folk is at INR 10,000 per farmer per year, virtually across the State.
The dominance of the CPI-Maoist, with over 2,700 armed and political cadres, appears to be augmenting across the State, despite the splits and factionalism that has come to haunt the outfit in recent times. Currently, four extremist groups, each a breakaway faction of the CPI-Maoist, operate in the State. The Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC, Third Presentation Committee) has an estimated 70 cadres; the Jharkhand Liberation Tiger (JLT) has about 40 cadres; while the Sasashtra Jansanghrash Shakti Morcha (SJSM, the Armed People’s Struggle Power Front) and the Jharkhand Prastuti Committee (JPC) have around 60 cadres each. The TPC claims to have expanded its organisation across the State, and has declared that its "main enemy is not the Police machinery, but the CPI-Maoist". The JLT, established in early 2007, has formations in the Palamu, Daltonganj and Latehar Districts, and is making progressive inroads into the CPI-Maoist stronghold in the Saranda Forest. Occasional internecine clashes have been reported among each of these groupings.
In spite of the claims of expansion by these fringe groupings, such splits and factionalism have had only limited impact on the CPI-Maoist. However, the violence profile in the State has certainly assumed wider proportions as a result of the occasional acts of insurgency by each of these groups. In a recent incident on November 22, 2007, SJSM cadres abducted and killed a senior political activist of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) at Mokama village in the Chatra District.
SF operations against the Maoists have, of course, had a measure of success. MHA data for the current year (till July 31) indicates that 133 Maoists were arrested in the State. Among them is the CPI-Maoist politburo member Misir Besra, who was arrested on September 20 along with an associate from Madnadih village in the Giridih District. State Police sources indicate that since the creation of the State in November 2000, 8,500 kilograms of explosives, 2,000 firearms of various makes, 45,431 rounds of ammunition, and 1,033 bombs and landmines, were also recovered during different combing operations and raids against the extremists.
Three major weapons’ seizures also occurred in 2007. On January 23, a consignment containing dismantled parts for arms, including three boxes of assemblies for mortars weighing 90 kilograms, was seized from a private transport firm in Ranchi. Again, on April 14, 2007, the Dumka District Police arrested a CPI-Maoist cadre and recovered 400 bags of explosives and 3,000 detonators from his possession. On November 18, raids across six villages in the Keredari Block, a Maoist stronghold in the Hazaribagh District, yielded 100 kilograms of powergel pyromex (a high strength emulsion explosive primer), 100 kilograms of nitric acid, huge quantities of wires and detonators. The Maoists had planned to target at least 20 bridges in Chatra and Hazaribagh with these explosives.
In the second week of September 2007, the Jharkhand Government launched Operation Black Thunder (OBT), a special security initiative across 18 Districts to counter the Maoist activities in the State. Contrary to initial high expectations, the achievements of OBT have been limited. Thereafter, following the October 26 killing of Anup Marandi, both Jharkhand and Bihar launched coordinated operations in the border Districts. The operation, however, lasted only for a few days before being abandoned in view of limited gains.
As has been argued previously in SAIR, the effectiveness of such operations has been severely affected by the endemic deficits of capacity among the State Police. As a result, such initiatives have laid too much emphasis on the central para-military forces (CPMFs) and have tended to be marred by the inherent shortcomings of these ‘outsider’ forces as well as the inadequacies of deployment. Jharkhand claims to have addressed the abysmal police-population ratio problem, mostly through the appointment of 14,265 constables in 2004 and 2005. This has reportedly augmented the police-population ratio to (a somewhat incredible) 163.58 by 2006 (as against a national ratio of 142) from 74 in 2004. The Police density (policemen per 100 square kilometre area) has also risen to 59.50 (as against the all India average of 48.89). No recruitment, however, has been made at the Sub Inspector (SI) level, with the result that there is a complete vacuum of leadership. An acute deficiency also exists in the Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre – where just 70 of the sanctioned strength of 110 officers are available in the State, as a result of which dozens of Districts are headed by State Police Service Officers, and over 25 per cent of IPS posts are still lying vacant. The low recruitment at officer levels has also affected intelligence operations, with the special branch of the State Police severely understaffed, bereft of competent officers and modern surveillance equipment. Similarly, Police Stations, Posts and Pickets in rural and Maoist afflicted areas are appallingly maintained and have severe manpower and leadership shortages.
Jharkhand’s record of utilisation of centrally allocated funds for Police modernisation is also poor. According to the MHA, Jharkhand received INR 1.827 billion under the modernisation scheme between 2000 and 2006, but utilisation has been abysmal. In 2004-05, for instance, the utilisation of the INR 210 million released was a minuscule 7.33 per cent.
Of late, Jharkhand has openly talked about replicating the ‘Andhra Pradesh model’ in its counter-Maoist campaigns. New initiatives against the extremists include the proposed raising of five new India Reserve Battalions (IRBs) in the State, adding to the two IRB battalions already in existence. Proposals have been approved for the recruitment of about 5,000 youth from Maoist-prone Districts for these new battalions. The State is also raising two battalions comprising ex-Army personnel to be deployed mostly in the Maoist affected Districts. There is also a proposal to raise motorcycle squads, equipped with sophisticated weapons, to fight the Maoists. State Police officials feel that the men on motorcycles will be less vulnerable to landmine blasts than personnel on four-wheel vehicles. A Geographical Information System (GIS) centre to track the movement of Maoists is also proposed for the State. The State Police is also in the process of acquiring new electronic surveillance systems. However, these measures will require some time to implement and even more time to show results, and will continue to be hampered by the Police leadership deficits in the State.
There is ample reason to believe that Jharkhand’s capacity constraints, as in the case of each of the States struggling to devise a response against the raging insurgency, have been fallouts principally of deficiencies in the political leadership. The State’s political masters, rugged believers in the capacity of the state to withstand any threat, have, for long years, simply refused to anticipate that vast stretches of the territory under their administration can actually fall into the hands of the guerrillas, and have consequently and chronically neglected policing and internal security issues. The year 2007 reflects a partial awakening of Jharkhand’s political leadership from this protracted slumber, and it is to be expected that the fight against the red terror will be a long and arduous one.
A high alert was sounded in the Malkangiri District on the eve of the ‘People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) week’ being celebrated on December 2-8, 2007, by the Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist). Police were put on alert in the Kalimela, Malkangiri Village-79 (MV-79), Motu, Bhejangwada and Chitrakonda areas of the District. Patrolling and combing operations were intensified in the vulnerable areas as a precautionary measure, and borders with Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were sealed to prevent a Maoist influx from the neighbouring States. Maoists put up hundreds of posters and banners in different places, including the District headquarters, on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the PLGA, urging the people to ‘fight against injustice’ and join the PLGA in large numbers. Similar posters and banners were also put up in the Koraput District in the local tribal and Telugu languages, asking people to evict landlords from their villages.
Maoist subversion in Orissa has largely been an overflow from neighbouring States including Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, both of which are deeply afflicted by the Maoist insurgency. While 22 of Orissa’s 30 Districts have, over the years, witnessed Maoist violence and mobilization, it is the border Districts which have been the worst affected.
According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), 23 persons, including five civilians, four security force (SF) personnel and 14 Maoists, were killed in 44 incidents in 2006. In 2007 (till June 30), MHA data indicated that 17 persons, including two civilians, nine SF personnel and six Maoists, were killed in 45 incidents. According to the Institute for Conflict Management database, 22 fatalities had been reported during 2007 till December 5. Crucially, however, while fatalities in 2006 included just three civilians and 16 Maoist cadre, year 2007 has seen as many as 13 civilians killed, with Maoist fatalities down to seven.
Maoist-related fatalities in Orissa, 2005-2007
* Data till December 5, 2007
Source: Institute for Conflict Management
Unlike its neighbouring States, Orissa has not witnessed significant high profile Maoist attacks in 2007, with just three major incidents (defined by three or more fatalities) recorded through the year:
January 31: Three forest employees were killed by suspected CPI-Maoist cadres in the Kandhar Forest area of Kankadahada Block in the Dhenkanal District. Leaflets found near the dead bodies said that the killings were in retaliation against the deaths of 13 tribals in Police firing at Kalinga Nagar on January 2, 2006.
April 29: A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Sub-Inspector and two suspected CPI-Maoist cadres were killed during an exchange of fire near MV 79 village in the Malkangiri District. Four CRPF personnel and two civilians were injured in the encounter.
June 22: Maoists killed three persons in the Deogarh District in coordinated attacks. One person from the Telkusumi village and two persons from Raniguda village were dragged out of their houses and tied with a rope before being hacked to death using sharp weapons by the Maoists. A contractor was also killed in a similar fashion at an unspecified location in the same District.
But the process of consolidation and expansion of Maoist areas of operation and activities continues to grow unchecked in the Orissa. The Naxal Management Division of the MHA indicates that there has been a rise of 25 percent rise in Maoist activities in the worst hit Malkangiri District and that there had been a nearly 15 per cent rise in Maoist activities in Orissa at large. Reports have indicated that the Maoists have, in recent times, ‘taken over’ several areas in south-western Orissa, thus allowing the insurgents a corridor of easy transit between Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The movement of armed Maoists has been noticed along the Ganjam-Kandhamal border and from the ‘remote’ areas of Bhanjanagar, Bargarh, Sorada, Mujagarh, Baibili and Tarsing in the Ganjam District close to Kandhamal border. The dense jungles and hilly terrain of this region are conducive to the safe movement of the Maoists.
CPI-Maoist propaganda has been asserting that Government policies have led to a further marginalisation of tribals and forest dwellers in the State, with large ventures like the POSCO and Kalinga Nagar steel projects, as well as bauxite mining and other large enterprises leading to massive displacement in Orissa. Accordingly, at their 9th Congress in January-February 2007, the Maoists called on all "forest dwellers to resist till the end the massive displacement taking place and protect their land and forests from the robbers and looters that seek to seize them." The 9th Congress also called on "the vast oppressed peasantry to rise as a storm… to sweep away their oppressors and establish their own people’s power from village to village", and exhorted the working class to "throw off the chains of the revisionists, reformists, and reactionary trade unionists and take to militant struggles against the attacks on their living standards and democratic rights."
There is some evidence that the Maoists have penetrated the major developmental project complex and are orchestrating a revolt by uniting local tribals. For instance, they have formed the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (Committee for Defence and Struggle against POSCO) to oppose the establishment of the POSCO steel plant in the Jagatsinghpur District. According to intelligence sources, Maoist ideologues have also started speaking to residents in the area about the need for an armed struggle against POSCO. "Normally, the ideologues arrive first, followed by their armed cadres," an intelligence official revealed. The Orissa Home Secretary, Tarunkanti Mishra, stated that, "The Naxalites are likely to capitalise on the volatile situation prevailing in the POSCO project area. However, Police personnel are keeping a close watch over their activities."
Similarly, Maoist front organisations are opposing the TATA Steel project in the Kalinga Nagar area of Jajpur District, with the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Manch (People’s Forum against Displacement) opposing the displacement of locals by the project. Hundreds of tribal villagers demolished a partly constructed boundary wall of the TATA Steel's proposed hospital inside the Kalinga Nagar industrial complex on January 1, 2007. Jajpur Superintendent of Police, D.S. Kuttey, also disclosed that "the CPI (ML) Janashakti is active in the Kalinga Nagar area… Already, two leaders of the Visthapan Virodhi Jana Manch are supporting the radical viewpoint of the Janashakti to wage an armed struggle. The police are keeping a watch on the situation and we are taking the necessary steps."
Over the years, the cultivation of hemp (ganja) in the hilly areas of the interior has been a major source of finance for the CPI-Maoist. On November 19, 2007, police personnel, excise and revenue officials had to trudge across 12 kilometres of inhospitable terrain to Kudanali and a neighbouring village in the Naktideul Block of Sambalpur District, before they could lay their hands on hemp cultivation spread over 20 acres of land. Police destroyed the hemp plants valued at INR 160 million. Similarly, on November 22, 2007, 6,000 hemp plants valued at INR 25 million were destroyed in the forests of Khajuripada and Sunajhari in the Boudh District.
Looting and robbery are another significant source of income for the Maoists in Orissa. On October 19, 2007, for instance, around 15 armed Maoists looted over INR 40,000 from a forest office at Kadelpali village in the Sambalpur District. Similarly, Police suspect the hand of the Maoists in a number of bank robberies in the extremist affected Districts of the State. Police also suspect a Maoist hand in the sensational robbery of INR 22 million from the Barbil branch of the Bank of Baroda in Keonjhar District on March 23, 2007, and INR 3.5 million from UCO Bank in Rourkela on September 28, 2007.
The Maoists in Malkangiri District are reportedly equipped with hi-tech gadgets and modern weapons, according to the Police. On November 3, 2007, Satish Gojbhie, District Superintendent of Police, disclosed, "The Maoists in Malkangiri District use extortion money – collected from traders and village level politicians – to buy latest equipment, including satellite phones and modern weaponry." According to Gojbhie, the insurgents in the District are ‘financially sound’. He disclosed, further, that one of the arrested members of CPI-Maoist Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC), 37-year old Sriramulu Srinivasa Rao, has confessed that he was collecting at least INR 20 million every month from the District. The Maoist, who faces at least 37 criminal charges, was arrested in July 2007. "Malkangiri District has no industry nor does it have mines. From his confession it is evident that village level politicians such as ward members, sarpanch and some non-government organisations are providing them with regular cash," Gojbhie argued.
Subsequent to the formation of the CPI-Maoist in 2004, two zonal committees of the outfit have been responsible for activities in Orissa: the AOBSZC and the Jharkhand-Bihar-Orissa Special Zonal Committee (JBOBSZC). These two function in close co-ordination with the CPI-Maoist Central Committee and the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee. The AOBSZC, which covers the Maoist affected Districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Gajapati, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Ganjam, has a bureaucratic organizational structure, and is divided into two bureaus: the South Bureau includes the Malkangiri Division and the North Bureau includes the Basdhara Division. The Malkangiri Division has Gopi Sammi Reddy alias Jogal alias Santhosh as its secretary. On the other hand, the Basdhara Division functions under its Secretary Sabyasachi Panda alias Sarat.
The Maoists function principally through their dalams (armed squads), including the Kalimela dalam, the Poplur dalam, the Motu dalam, the Jhanjavati dalam and the Korkonda dalam in Malkangiri District and the Udaya dalam in Rayagada District, among others. These dalams recruit locals and send them to various Maoist training centres in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. According to sources, the insurgents are now using high-power jammers and filters to block mobile and wireless services in the Maoist ‘zones’ and are also using satellite phones.
In November 2007, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stated that Police Stations in the Maoist-affected areas were being repaired and strengthened. He also said that jails in these areas were being fortified and their staff being given special training, adding that employees’ strength in 84 Police Stations in the affected areas had been increased and four Special Security Battalions had been established. He disclosed, further, that Police personnel were being given anti-Maoist training gradually. Four battalions of the paramilitary CRPF have also been deployed in the affected areas. The State’s first India Reserve Battalion (IRB) has already been set up, while the recruitment process for the second and third IRBs has commenced. To boost the morale of the security forces, the Orissa Government has launched an insurance policy of INR One million for 12,000 Police personnel engaged in counter-insurgency operations.
Nevertheless, the Orissa Police lacks infrastructure and manpower to check the mounting Maoist influence and capabilities. The State Director General of Police, Gopal Chandra Nanda, admits, "There had been not only acute shortage of Police personnel, but the department is also severely handicapped in terms of infrastructure as well." While Police Headquarters feels that Orissa currently requires around 1,000 Police Stations, Nanda disclosed that "Unfortunately, the State now has only 482 Police Stations and most of them lack proper infrastructure and manpower."
Further, the Orissa Police currently has over 12,000 vacancies. While about 10,000 vacancies are among the constables and Other Ranks, there are also many vacancies in the middle-rung leadership at the Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI), Sub-Inspector (SI) and Inspector levels. According to sources, as many as 360 ASI posts, 905 SI posts and 43 posts of inspectors have been vacant for the past several years. At least 57 posts of India Police Service officers in the State quota are also vacant, as against a sanctioned strength of 159 officers for the State. "Whereas there are 142 policemen per one lakh population on an average across the country, Orissa has only 92 policemen per one lakh population", Nanda disclosed further. Orissa’s casual attitude towards filling vacancies in the Police force has only worsened the already weak counter-insurgency capacities. In May 2007, the MHA was constrained to write to the Orissa Government, along with the Governments of Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, regarding the need to spruce up their intelligence mechanisms by increasing manpower, inducting competent officers and procuring better surveillance equipment.
On October 6, 2007, the Orissa Government submitted a proposal of INR 5.5 billion to the Centre for overall development of Districts affected by the Maoist insurgency. Official sources maintain that Orissa will prefer to continue with its old strategy of giving priority to developmental activities rather than campaigns to suppress the insurgency by force. "We plan to ensure rural connectivity, health facilities and employment in tribal-dominated Districts where Maoists lure people to their groups," Government sources assert. The Government, for instance, wishes to make a success the 1,700 kilometre Vijayawada-Ranchi Highway corridor which would pass through 12 Districts of Orissa, including the Maoist-affected Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj. The Orissa stretch of the inter-state road will start from Motu in Malkangiri District in the south and terminate at Tiring in the Mayurbhanj District in the north. The Chief Minister feels that if the corridor passing through the Maoist affected States of Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh is constructed, it would usher in economic development in the region and reduce the intensity of Left Wing extremism. In order to combat the insurgency, the Orissa Government has also prepared a pilot project to be launched initially in the two most vulnerable Districts of Malkangiri and Rayagada. Tarun Kanti Mishra, Principal Secretary (Home), indicated that the main thrust of the pilot scheme includes the provision of enhanced security and launching of special schemes relating to socio-economic development, particularly in health care, education, road and other infrastructure development.
The Maoists in Orissa are progressively strengthening with each passing day, acquiring more manpower, technological and striking capabilities. They are also planning to enlarge their spheres of operation by reaching out to more people in newer areas. The Government, however, is still battling basic issues such as acute shortages of infrastructure and personnel. Such a lackadaisical attitude towards a problem which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as the ‘single largest threat’ to India’s internal security, is no less than appalling.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
December 3-9, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Al Badr Mujahideen ‘chief commander’ Bilal Afghani killed in Jammu and Kashmir: Security forces killed Bilal Afghani alias Chhotta Bilal, ‘chief commander’ of the Al Badr Mujahideen in the Kashmir Valley, during a 24-hour-long encounter at Aarth village in the Budgam district on December 3, 2007. Senior Superintendent of Police (Budgam), Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, confirmed Afghani's death and said that the 30-year-old Pakistani militant had operated in Budgam District for nearly five years after having operated in the Bandipora area in north Kashmir for two years. He disclosed that Afghani was involved in over two dozen attacks on Police and Security Forces, besides civilian targets, primarily in the Beerwah-Tangmarg belt. Daily Excelsior, December 4, 2007.
10 persons killed in suicide attack in Swat: Three Police personnel and seven civilians, including two children, were killed and a child was wounded, in a car bombing in the Swat District of the North West Frontier Province on December 9, 2007, Army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said. The suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden jeep when he was stopped at the Ningolai check-post in Kabal sub-division at around 11.15 am. According to a bomb disposal official, about 10 to 15 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast. "It was a suicide attack," said Swat Media Centre spokesman Major Amjad Iqbal. Dawn; Daily Times, December 10, 2007.
Swat cleared of militants, claims Army: The Pakistan Army claimed on December 8, 2007, that it has cleared almost all militants from Swat after killing 290 militants and arresting another 143 in recent weeks. He disclosed that five soldiers and six civilians had been killed in the operation and around 20 civilians were wounded. Major General Nasser Janjua said 20,000 troops backed by helicopter gunships and artillery had driven the militants out of their strongholds in an ongoing military operation. "Fazlullah is still on the run with hardcore militants estimated to be between 200 to 400, including some foreigners," Janjua told reporters in Mingora, and added, "The militants have retreated to two places in the mountains in the northwest of the valley and we will chase them there." However, Janjua also observed that the militants remain dangerous and likely will try to regroup for at least one major counter-attack. He opined that it would take up to four months to stabilise the region, adding that it would take at least 12 months to reopen the region to tourists. Daily Times, December 9, 2007.
First female suicide bomber attack occurs in Peshawar: In the first such attack of its kind in the country, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in a high security zone in Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), on December 4, 2007. Except for the suicide bomber, who was said to be in her mid-30s, no other casualty was reported in the blast. The offices of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are located in the maximum-security Peshawar Cantonment area. Peshawar Police chief Tanveerul Haq Sipra said the bomber blew herself up when she was stopped at a military check-post on on Babar Road. "From her body parts, we have confirmed the gender of the bomber. She seems to be an Afghan and around 34 years of age," he added. Daily Times; The News, December 5, 2007.