SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The Colour Red
Manipur has long been stained by the incessant bloodshed of its multiple and fratricidal insurgencies, but October 21, 2008, will go down as a moment of reckoning for security planners in India. The day witnessed the single biggest militant attack, in terms of fatalities, in the recorded history of militancy in Manipur, as 18 persons, including three security force (SF) personnel, were killed in an explosion targeting a game of lagao (dice gambling) in the Ragailong area of capital Imphal; far more significantly, on the same day, one of the State’s leading militant formations, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) inked a three-point pact with the Left Wing extremist Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) – the group is already known to be active in over 220 Districts in 22 States across the country – calling for consolidation of "mutual understanding and friendship" to "overthrow the common enemy", the "reactionary regime of India". The latter event, far more than the first, bears the potential of transforming the very character of militancy in the State.
Amidst utter confusion regarding the identity of the militant group responsible for the explosion, the Military Council (MC) faction of the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement released by the group’s ‘military affairs secretary’ Lanheiba Meitei on October 22, said that the blast was directed at teaching the State as well as central SFs (Army and the para-military forces) a lesson for ‘promoting dice gambling’, which is "alien to the culture of Manipur". Threatening to carry out more attacks in future, the outfit warned people to stay clear of the SFs and not to organise protests condemning the blast. It is customary for militant formations in Manipur, seen to be ‘sons of the soil’, to express their remorse at any unintended loss of civilian lives in the aftermath of an attack. On this occasion, however, the KCP-MC chose to do away with such formalities.
According to data till August 31, 2008, Manipur is now the most violent State in India’s North Eastern region. Compared to 209 fatalities in the neighbouring (and much larger) State of Assam, which saw the highest numbers killed in 2007, Manipur has recorded 314 fatalities. Of these, 65 per cent were militants killed. In spite of recurrently high fatality rates in militant ranks over the past several years – 56 per cent of 388 in 2007; 60 per cent of 311 in 2006; and 49 per cent of 410 in 2005 – there appears to be no visible decline in the overall dominance exercised by the 15 active militant groups in the State. Indeed, Manipur is proof of the reality that killings alone do not exhaust the debate on militancy. Rampant incidents of abduction and extortion; the forcible closure of business, educational and Government establishments; militant decrees targeting the day to day lives of the people; and attacks on senior officials and politicians, including the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues; have contributed significantly to an atmosphere of abject insecurity and chaos in this State.Militancy related fatalities 2003-2008
* Data till August 31, 2008
Source: Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
Against this backdrop, a pact between one of the State’s most potent militant groups and the CPI-Maoist – the architect of the most menacing and rapidly augmenting insurgency in India – has unprecedented significance, not only for Manipur, but for the Northeast region in entirety and, indeed, for the country at large.
The joint declaration by the PLA and the CPI-Maoist followed a two day meeting between the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF, the political wing of the PLA) and the CPI-Maoist at the ‘Council Headquarters’ of the former at an unspecified location in Manipur on October 21 and 22. According to the three point pact, both the PLA and the CPI-Maoist would, henceforth,
The pact is a natural culmination of Maoist strategy, and represents a pattern which can be expected to be repeated with other groups within Manipur as well as with militant outfits in other States of the Northeast. SAIR, in its previous issues, has detailed the ascent of the Maoist movement in India and had noted increasing Maoist mobilisation and consolidation in pockets of several North Eastern States. In this context, the pact with the RPF/PLA further underlines the Maoist potential to engulf the entire country, contradicting the scenario of a constrained and limited Maoist presence repeatedly projected by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The inroads the CPI-Maoist are making in the Northeast come as no surprise. The essentially socialist outlook of a majority of the insurgent movements in the Northeast and their abhorrence of the ‘domination of a colonial India’, make them natural allies of the CPI-Maoist. The ethnicity-based insurgencies of the Northeast are, moreover, progressively approaching exhaustion or have been trapped in an unending and un-winnable stalemate with SFs for years, making them attractive targets of a Maoist effort to ‘mop up’ their surviving potential in alliances or, eventually, under the Maoist banner. Manipur is also the locus of the most abject collapse of governance, with vast areas virtually abandoned by the state, a terrain that is difficult for SF operations, and administrative instrumentalities that have been dysfunctional for decades; in sum, ideal territory for Maoist mobilisation and strategic extension.
The movement into Manipur – and, indeed, other theatres of the Northeast – was also inevitable in terms of the repeatedly articulated strategy of the Maoists. The Maoist Party Programme document unambiguously expresses its solidarity with armed militant movements in other parts of the country including the Northeast.
Similarly, Maoist Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution document makes it obligatory for the party to "be in the forefront of every democratic demand of the nationalities whether it is for autonomy; for equal status for their languages; for separate statehood; against economic, social cultural and other forms of oppression by a certain dominant nation."
The alliance between the Maoists and the RPF/PLA will have defining impact on the course of the insurgencies in Manipur – though it is not expected to result in any extraordinary spike in violence in the immediate future. The PLA can, however, be expected to gain in strength over the coming months, profiting from its strategic alliance with a powerful nation-wide insurgency, particularly in terms of improvements in training, tactics and strategies of irregular warfare which the Maoists have evolved to a fine art. Significantly, the RPF/PLA’s camaraderie with other Manipuri insurgent groupings such as the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) [the three constitute an umbrella organisation, the Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF)] and the UNLF’s strategic linkages with the KCP-MC, would suggest that the pact with the Maoists could gradually be extended to embrace all these outfits.
The KCP-MC, created out of a split in its parent group in the last quarter of 2007, has seen phenomenal growth in its brief existence. Irrespective of its actual involvement in the October 21 explosion, the Institute for Conflict Management database records 80 incidents involving the KCP-MC before this last incident. With an estimated 110 active cadres, the group’s activities include abduction, extortion, attacks on politicians, bureaucrats and SFs and the imposition of several dictates and restrictions on the media. The group’s cadres have been described by the Police as ‘experts’ in manufacturing improvised explosives devices (IEDs). With 370 kilometres of the 1,640 kilometre-long open and porous Indo-Myanmar border running along Manipur, smuggling of small arms and explosives from the Southeast Asian arms markets is not particularly difficult. KCP-MC, like any other militant formation in the region with surplus funds, faces little challenge in going in for a radical makeover.
At present, no area in Manipur – either in the Valley or the Hills, including the State capital Imphal – is free from militant activities. A lion’s share of the violence is, however, orchestrated by the Valley-based Meitei groups (like the KCP-MC, UNLF, PLA, PREPAK), who accounted for over 63 per cent of the total 465 incidents reported till August 31, 2008. Imphal, spread over 30.75 square kilometres, has been described by the Manipur Home Department as the nerve and extortion centre of militant activity. The Institute for Conflict Management database records at least 170 militancy related incidents in and around Imphal in the current year alone. Heavy security presence in the capital does not appear to have deterred the militants in the least. Just two days before the October 21 explosion, PREPAK militants had executed a grenade attack right in front of the Chief Minister’s bungalow, breaching high levels of security.
Given the character of militancy in Manipur – especially in the four valley Districts (Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Thoubal) – the State Police, which is familiar with the intricacies of the conflict and its key players, should have the lead role in counter-insurgency (CI) operations, backed by the Army and Central Para-Military Forces (CPMFs). Manipur has a healthy Police-population ratio (Policemen per 100,000 population) of 554 and Police density (Policemen per 100 square kilometre area) of 63.8, as against the All India averages of 126 and 44.4 respectively. However, the Force has a current vacancy of 28 per cent against a sanctioned strength of 22,936 men. Worse, the Police have preferred to relinquish all initiative in CI operations, allowing the Army and CPMFs to shoulder virtually the entire burden. Despite the creation of a Unified Command Structure in the State in 2004, to coordinate the activities of the Police, the Army and the CPMFs, there has been little operational improvement.
Authorities in Manipur insist that popular support for the militants is on a decline, but this is difficult to reconcile with the realities of the ground. Public opinion in Manipur has been hijacked by community-based organisations, which have little influence on the militant outfits, but which are deeply divisive and partisan, either favouring particular armed underground groups, or ambivalent in their approach towards militant violence. The influential United Committee Manipur (UCM), for instance, has maintained a studied silence on KNF-MC excesses and attributed the October 21 explosion to the "inherent weakness and total failure of the Government in maintaining law and order." Another prominent ‘civil society’ group, the All Manipur United Clubs' Organisation (AMUCO) has implicitly supported insurgent activity and responded to the October 21 attack with qualified criticism, stating: "regardless of the non-state or state actors or agencies who may have been perpetrators, this should never be considered a part of the ongoing armed conflict since the attack targeted a crowded place." The ethnically polarized civilian population has tended to seek refuge in an imaginary insularity which offers no protection, but which has prevented the consolidation of public opinion against the militancy and violence that dominate State politics. The State leadership, in turn, has failed comprehensively in managing the minimal tasks of governance and in executing its basic duty to protect the lives and properties of citizens.
There have been repeated calls by the State leadership – including the Chief Minister – for a dialogue with the insurgent groups and a negotiated ‘solution’ to Manipur’s multiple insurgencies and this has been picked up by the security establishment as well. On October 24, 2008, a senior officer of the para-military Assam Rifles called for a ‘political dialogue’ between the militants and the Government to secure a ‘lasting solution’ to the enduring conflict in the State. Such an approach, however, ignores a long historical record that demonstrates that insurgent groups almost never engage in good-faith negotiations when they are in an ascendant – and it is more than evident that Manipur’s militants are fighting anything but a losing battle. With the new alliance between the RPF/PLA and the Maoists – and the potential for further consolidation of the Maoist presence and support to the militancy in the State, Manipur is heading for an insurgency far more intractable than the disorders it has experience in the past. Unless the security establishment addresses this augmenting challenge with determination and a strategic perspective far more coherent than is currently manifest, the situation in Manipur threatens to hurtle entirely out of control.
Amidst the rhetoric of Government troop’s on the verge of capturing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s (LTTE’s) Headquarters in Kilinochchi, the Eastern Province is witnessing increasing violence. The simmering intra party rivalry in the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) alliance partner Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), meanwhile, poses serious challenges to the re-established ‘model democratic institution’ which President Mahinda Rajapakse promises to set up in the soon-to-be liberated Northern Province.
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan aka Pillayan was appointed as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province on May 16, 2008. Since then, as many as 22 civilians, 20 security force (SF) personnel and 33 militants, including 24 LTTE militants and nine TMVP cadres, have been killed in more than 158 militancy-related incidents in the Eastern Province, according to data complied by the Institute for Conflict Management.
Some of the significant incidents of violence carried out by the LTTE in the Eastern Province since May 16, 2008, include:
October 16: Police recovered four dead bodies of farmers in the Kanchkudichchiaru area of Ampara District. The farmers were allegedly shot dead by LTTE militants.
September 21: The chief priest at the Trincomalee Koneshwaran Temple, Thivathunaraja Kurukkal, who maintained close relations with the SFs, was killed by ‘pistol gang’ militants of the LTTE while he was riding a motorcycle on Pathima Street in Trincomalee.
September 19: The Eravur area leader of the TMVP, identified as Parathawaran Udayan, was shot dead by LTTE militants near the TMVP area office located in the Thalawai area of Eravur in the Batticaloa District.
September 17: A female Assistant Engineer, Lokeshwaran Premalatha, attached with the Ministry of Nation Building and actively engaged in the eastern development programme, Negenahira Navodaya (Resurrection of the East), was shot dead by two ‘pistol gang’ militants of the LTTE at her residence at Thihativu in the Kalawanchikudi area of Batticaloa District.
August 26: Using a small aircraft, the LTTE dropped two improvised bombs on the Trincomalee Naval Base. The LTTE launched the air raid on the naval camp at about 9:15 pm (SLST). While one of the two bombs failed to explode, 10 sailors were injured in the attack.
August 15: An Eelam People’s Democratic Party member was shot dead by LTTE militants in the Kaththankudy area of Batticaloa District.
July 10: Three civilians, identified as Surendra Kumara, Wasantha Premakumara and Asanka Namal Buddhika from the Wattegama area of Kurunegala District, were shot dead by a ‘pistol gang’ militant of the LTTE in the Kalmunai area of Ampara District.
June 23: Three Policemen were killed and another injured when suspected LTTE militants carried out a bomb explosion near the Aiyththamalai Police Post in Batticaloa District.
June 2: The TMVP Eravurpattu Pradeshiya Sabha Deputy Chairman, Aiyathurai Pushpanadan alias Kattan, and his bodyguard, Arsakoon Pullai Mohandas alias Amburaj, were shot dead by suspected ‘pistol gang’ militants of the LTTE at Eravur in the Kalawanchikudi area of Batticaloa District.
May 22: Two members of the TMVP and three civilians were killed and four other people were wounded by suspected militants in two separate incidents in the Batticaloa District. Two TMVP cadres, including the party's chief organiser for Katankudi, were shot dead by suspected LTTE militants. In a separate incident, also at Arayampathi in Katankudi area, three Muslim civilians were killed by suspected militants.
On the other hand, the SFs have killed several LTTE militants, including some top leaders, and have also neutralised many of the outfit’s plans by recovering large hauls of arms and ammunition, undermining the LTTE’s efforts to re-establish its stronghold in the East, an objective the LTTE leadership had articulated when it lost its citadel in July 2007. On October 3, 2008, three LTTE militants were killed after a confrontation with a combined Army-Air Force foot patrol in the eastern village of Kattikulam in the Trincomalee District. Separately, two LTTE cadres were killed and their bodies found subsequently by the SFs at Vellankulam in the Trincomalee District on August 27, 2008. The slain militants were identified as Viniden, the Trincomalee North area leader, and Kanthan. The SFs also killed LTTE’s intelligence wing leader for Trincomalee, Soundrarajan alias Thangan, during a clearing operation at Manachchena in the east of Neelapola on June 19, 2008. He had been entrusted with the clandestine operation since January 2008, after his predecessor, Ari Chelvam was killed by the Army. Earlier, on June 10, 2008, three ‘pistol gang’ militants of the LTTE were killed during a Police and Army combined cordon and search operation at Pallikudiruppu in the Akkaraipattu area of Ampara District. In another significant incident on July 17, 2008, the SFs recovered a powerful three-kilogram Claymore mine and two hand grenades from the Valaichchenai Railway Station premises in the Batticaloa District following a tip-off given by a civilian, thus averting a major bloodbath, since a train from Polonnaruwa was expected at the station just a few minutes after the recoveries were made. The claymore, two hand grenades, two 9-V batteries and the 120-m long detonator wire had been kept covered, in close proximity to the main entrance of the Railway Station.
Meanwhile, according to an October 21, 2008, report, the Sri Lankan Government has disclosed that the de-mining process in the Eastern Province is almost finished. M.S Jayasinghe, senior consultant to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights indicated that 95 percent of the de-mining had been finished, adding, "Thoppigala in Batticaloa District is the only area still to de-mine." He also said that once the full de-mining process is completed, the Government would take measures to resettle the people in Thoppigala area. Earlier, on September 19, 2008, Secretary to the Resettlement Ministry, A.C.M. Razik, had said the resettlement of the Eastern Province is almost finished under the region's development project and that 51,851 families have been resettled. The Government has reportedly allocated a total of SLR 2 billion for the development of infrastructure and de-mining operations in the Eastern Province.
But the simmering intra party rivalry in the TMVP since the return of its founder Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan aka ‘Colonel’ Karuna Amman on July 3 is the worrisome factor which seems to undo all that the Government has achieved so far. Karuna has returned to Sri Lanka after completing his prison term in Britain on charges of violation of immigration laws. At this juncture, there appears to be no end of clashes between the two factions of the TMVP – led respectively by Pillayan and Karuna. In one such incident, cadres of the two factions clashed over the party's printing press in the Batticaloa town on October 17, 2008. According to the Police, the Karuna faction of the TMVP raided the printing office, "Thenagama", run by the Pillayan faction and took the control, detaining 13 members of the Pillayan group. No one was, however, reported injured in the incident.
Colombo, though, has tried to pacify the two factions. Karuna was sworn in as a Member of Parliament, representing the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), on October 6, 2008, even as Pillayan retains his control of the Eastern Province. But the fight for dominance between the two factions is far from over. An October 21 report stated that, in a meeting with the heads and editors of media at the presidential secretariat, Karuna had argued that Police powers should not be devolved to Provincial Councils, a provision under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. "We do not need police powers at the moment because of the current security situation," he had said at the meeting chaired by President Mahinda Rajapakse. Distancing itself from Karuna’s stand, the TMVP leadership, according to an October 23 report, has demanded full Police powers in the Eastern province. Kumarasamy Nandagopan aka Raghu stated that the TMVP is for the full devolution of powers, including Police powers, to the regions, contrary to views expressed by Karuna. Stressing his authority as President of the party according to the registration documents, he argued that Karuna’s opinion did not reflect that of the party. He added that a formal letter had been sent by the TMVP General Secretary demanding an explanation from Karuna in this regard.
The internal rivalries between the factions have escalated as a result of the security scenario in the province. US Ambassador Robert Blake, while addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Kalawanchikudi Vocational Training Centre in the Batticaloa District on September 23, 2008, noted that abductions, extra-judicial killings and other security challenges must end in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka to attract private sector investments to develop the region. The International Crisis Group, in its report of October 15, 2008, has noted that Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese all feel weak and under threat, and recent ethnic violence could easily worsen. The Province witnessed large scale communal tension after the abductions of a Muslim youth from Eravur in the Batticaloa District on May 22, 2008, compelling the Government to impose curfew, and still suffers under the scourge of militancy.
‘Operation Watershed’, which commenced on July 22, 2006, with the closure of the Mavil Aru anicut by the LTTE, depriving over 30,000 people of water, ended successfully on August 11, 2007, culminated in the re-establishment of democratic institutions in the Eastern Province. The province is ethnically the most complex region of the country and has been the epicentre of post-independence conflicts. As the LTTE comes under increasing pressure in the North, it will seek greater destabilisation of the East, and the objectives of democratisation and normalisation in the province are bound to be jeopardised further. It is imperative, consequently, for the Rajapakse Government to urgently address the problems of the ‘Eastern Cauldron’, notwithstanding the more pressing engagement in the war in the north.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 20-26, 2007
18 persons killed and 30 others injured in explosion in Manipur: At least 18 persons including three security forces personnel were killed and over 30 persons injured when a bomb fitted to a two wheeler vehicle exploded near the high security Ragailong Gate in capital Imphal in the evening of October 21. While sixteen persons were killed on the day of the incident, two others succumbed to their injuries later. The explosion site was in the proximity of the Headquarters of the para-military Assam Rifles and the Manipur Police commando complex. While Police suspected the explosion to be the work of People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), a day after the blast, the Military Council faction of the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP-MC) claimed responsibility for the attack. The ‘secretary of military affairs’ of the faction, identified as Lanheiba Meitei, on October 22, stated that the bomb was exploded to target police and security forces for "encouraging gambling and also for their immoral acts". Sangai Express ; Telegraph, October 22-23, 2008.
12 security force personnel killed in Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh: On October 20, 12 para-military personnel belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed and six others injured in an ambush by the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) extremists near a forest village between Modupal and Kompalli in the Bijapur District. Bijapur Superintendent of Police (SP) Ankit Garg said the incident took place around 1.30 pm when CRPF men patrolling the area were moving towards the Modupal Base Camp. They were attacked by large number of Maoists who first set off an explosion and then opened fire. Police sources said three security personnel were killed in the blast while nine others were killed in the firing that followed. A Maoist was killed when the CRPF personnel returned fire. Maoists also escaped with weapons of the dead and injured personnel, including an Ak-47 assault rifle, two SLRs, a light machine gun and INSAS rifles. Indian Express, October 21, 2008.
Hindu Jagran Manch behind the Malegaon and Modasa bomb blasts, claims Maharashtra Police: The Maharashtra Police on October 22 claimed that the Hindu Jagran Manch, an Indore (Madhya Pradesh)-based Hindu extremist group was responsible for the September 29 bomb blasts in Malegaon (Maharashtra) and Modasa (Gujarat). This extremist group reportedly has links with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
A day after, on October 23, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested three persons on charges of being involved in the September 29 blast in Malegaon. They were identified as a Sadhvi Pragnya Singh Chandrapal Singh, Shiv Narayan Gopal Singh Kalsanghra, and Shyam Bhawarlal Sahu. While Pragnya Singh was arrested from Surat (Gujarat), the other two persons were arrested from unspecified places in Madhya Pradesh. Subsequently, the Nashik Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court remanded the arrested to Police custody till November 3. The three accused reportedly had started the Rashtriya Jagran Manch, a sister organisation of the RSS. They have been booked under various sections of the Indian Explosives Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The ATS chief Hemant Karkare said that the Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) report had revealed "traces of RDX" in the September 29 blast in Malegaon. Indian Express ; The Hindu, October 23-24, 2008.
Anti-Taliban offensive continues in Bajaur: At least 97 Taliban militants were killed in the past week in a continued air and land offensive between the SFs and the Taliban militants in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). On October 20, 15 Taliban militants were killed as security forces (SFs) used heavy artillery, fighter jets and helicopter gunships to target suspected Taliban hide-outs in the Chinar, Charmang, Kohi, Babra, Zorbandar, Hashim and Loyesam areas of the Agency. On October 21, at least 11 Taliban militants were killed and 10 others were injured after helicopter gunships and fighter jets pounded Taliban hideouts in the Chinar, Charmang, Kohi, Babara and Hashim areas of Nowagai tehsil (revenue division). SFs claimed to have destroyed important Taliban positions in the attacks. More than 12 Taliban militants were killed and 10 others injured during air raids targeting Taliban hideouts in the Nawagai and Mamond tehsils on October 22. Several Taliban dens in the Charmang, Chinar and Zorbandar areas of the Agency were also destroyed. On October 23, ground and air strikes killed at least 35 Taliban militants in the Loyesam and Charmang areas. Eight close aides of the Taliban commander Maulvi Omar were among the killed. Omar’s house had been destroyed in an earlier operation. On October 24, 12 Taliban militants were killed as SFs backed by tanks and helicopter gunships raided Taliban positions in the Charmang, Chinar, Kohi and Banda areas of Nawagai tehsil and Zobandar and Anzrai areas in the Khar tehsil. Jet aircrafts also bombed Taliban hideouts in the Shinkot area of the Agency. On October 26, Geo News reported the killing of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman, Maulvi Umar an air strike on a cave in the Budano area of the Agency. The death has not been officially confirmed. On October 26, Taliban attacked a security post on the outskirts of Khar township. Troops retaliated, killing six Taliban. Another five Taliban militants were killed when troops attacked a militant base in Charmang area.
The Government claims to have succeeded in persuading the tribes to rise in revolt against the Taliban. It has been a customary practice for the helicopters to drop pamphlets asking tribesmen to support the Government against Taliban, following air raids on Taliban targets. On October 20, 300 elders from the Salarzai tribe vowed to resist Taliban in their areas during a grand jirga (council) held in Bajaur. The elders said they would fight Taliban for Pakistan’s sake and would not allow them to re-enter their land. They asked the Government to launch development and welfare projects in the area to win more tribesmen over. On October 21, a Salarzai grand jirga held at a government school in Pusht decided it would expel anyone harbouring Taliban militants from the Agency, burn their houses and fine them PKR Two million. Elders of the Banda and Ghundai tribes backed the decision. On October 23, a Salarzai tribal militia set ablaze houses of Taliban militants, including Commander Qari Gulrez. The tribe has also banned the entry of relatives of Taliban militants in the areas it controls and has said it would expel, fine, and burn houses of those who sheltered Taliban. On October 24, a grand jirga of Mamoond tribe at Badaan extended full co-operation to the SFs to restore the Government’s writ in the area.
On October 25, military officials said at a media briefing that Operation Sherdil in the Bajaur Agency has so far killed 1,500 Taliban militants, 95 civilians and 73 troops. Frontier Corps (FC) Inspector General Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan and ISPR Director General Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told reporters that 950 Taliban militants have also been arrested during the operation that began in August, 2008. The arrested included 300 foreign terrorists mainly from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Gen Tariq Khan further said. "The worst is over… I think we’ve turned the corner." But he added that the operation "could go on for several months before the area is completely cleared of militants". Daily Times; Dawn, October 21-27, 2008.
Parliament adopts 14-point anti-terrorism resolution: On October 22, the Pakistan Parliament, following two days of negotiations, unanimously adopted a 14-point resolution declaring that the Pakistani nation was united against terrorism and sectarian violence and would tackle the problem by addressing its root causes. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani moved the resolution, which he said would serve as a policy guideline to the Government in framing a national security strategy. "Extremism, militancy and terrorism in all forms and manifestations pose a grave danger to the stability and integrity of the country," the resolution said. "Dictatorial regimes in the past pursued policies aimed at perpetuating their own power at the cost of national interest. We need an urgent review of our national security strategy and revisiting the methodology of combating terrorism in order to restore peace and stability to Pakistan and the region through an independent foreign policy", it added. The resolution laid emphasis on the process of dialogue as the "principal instrument of conflict management and resolution", but also said talks would only "be encouraged with all those elements willing to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and rule of law". It asked for the expulsion of all foreign fighters from Pakistan’s soil. Daily Times, October 23, 2008.
15 Frontier Constabulary personnel and five Taliban militants killed in Swat: At least 15 Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel and five Taliban militants were found dead in the Kabal tehsil (Revenue Division) of Swat in the NWFP on October 22. The FC personnel had gone missing after a fight with Taliban on the previous day after a roadside bomb targeted a paramilitary convoy in the Sarsenai area. "After the exchange of fire that lasted for several hours, more than 20 troops went missing but today we found 15 dead bodies at the site," Noor Rehman, a Police officer in Kabal said. Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, said that apart from the 15 FC personnel, five Taliban militants were also killed in the fighting. Swat police chief, Dilawar Bangash, said an injured Taliban commander, identified as Sardar Ali, had been arrested. Daily Times, October 23, 2008.
20 LTTE militants among 56 persons killed in the first four days of the week: 20 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants, 33 soldiers and five civilians were killed in separate incidents between October 20 and October 23. The Sri Lankan military on October 20 claimed to have established complete domination over the western Kilinochchi battlefront. The Military said 33 soldiers were killed, 48 injured and three others went missing in pitched battles with the LTTE. The military also said that, in mop-up operations, dead bodies of 11 militants were recovered along with large quantities of ammunition.
The Sri Lankan Defence ministry on October 24 said it is suspending the release of casualty figures during the current fighting in the north of the country. "We took this decision to stop confusion. Recent times, there were instances when different Government agencies had given conflicting figures of casualties," the Director General of the Media Centre for National Security, Laxman Hulugalle, told BBC Sinhala. "Casualty figures varied depending on the source. I accept that they are all Government sources but they do not always have the same figures. This can be damaging when quoted by the media. In a war situation like the one we are in at the moment, it is important to be selective about what can be revealed. In a battle it is important to concentrate on the territory we gained rather than the amount of men we lose," Hulugalle said. The move comes after the Defence Ministry said 33 troops were killed at the weekend, an unusually high figure for the authorities to admit to. The figures were later denied by another Government department. Sri Lanka Army ; BBC, October 21-25, 2008.