INDIA
PAKISTAN
NEPAL
BHUTAN
BANGLADESH
SRI LANKA
Terrorism Update
Latest
S.A.Overview
Publication
Show/Hide Search
HomePrint
 
  Click to Enlarge
   

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 15, No. 30, January 23, 2017

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


ASSESSMENT

PAKISTAN
Click for PrintPrint

FATA: Smouldering Fire
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Registering the first violent incident of the year in the region, 25 people were killed and more than 87 were injured in a bomb blast at the Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market) area of Parachinar in the Kurram Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the morning of January 21, 2017. A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the improvised explosive device (IED) blast took place at 08:50am PST. Government official Shahid Khan stated that the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables. In a text message sent to journalists, the al-Alami (International) faction of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed that it, along with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter Shehryar Mehsud group, carried out the attack. The Shehryar Mehsud group did not independently claim the bombing.   

On December 13, 2015, a similar blast in a makeshift market in Parachinar had killed 25 people and injured 62. Two militant groups, LeJ Al Alami and Ansarul Mujahideen, based in the South Waziristan Agency, had claimed responsibility for that blast.

Kurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas, as it borders three Afghan provinces and, at one point, was a key route for militant movement across the border. It has witnessed scores of sectarian and militant attacks in the past several years. Kurram adjoins the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) where Operation Zarb-i-Azb (‘Sword of the Prophet’, also ‘sharp and cutting’) is in progress against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in NWA on June 15, 2014, in the aftermath of the attack on the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, on June 8-9, 2014, in which at least 33 persons, including all 10 attackers, were killed. Since then, according to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 2,563 terrorists and 232 soldiers have been killed (data till January 22, 2017). [As media access to the areas of conflict is severely limited no independent verification of number of fatalities or identities of those killed is available.] However, Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa claimed, on June 15, 2016, that a total of 3,500 terrorists had been killed, and 992 hideouts destroyed. Referring to the losses faced by the Pakistan Army during the Operation, Bajwa added, 490 soldiers had been killed till that date.  

2016 was significant for FATA in terms of violence, as the region recorded a noticeable 10 years low in terrorism-related fatalities. Overall fatalities in the Agency registered a 77.15 per cent decline in 2016, as compared to the previous year, from 1,882 killed in 2015 to 430 in 2016. While civilian fatalities declined by 43.28 per cent, fatalities among terrorist registered a sharp 80.81 per cent decline. SF fatalities also fell by 63.2 per cent. 

Fatalities in FATA: 2006-2017

Years
Civilians
SFs
Terrorists
Total
2006
109
144
337
590
2007
424
243
1014
1681
2008
1116
242
1709
3067
2009
636
350
4252
5238
2010
540
262
4519
5321
2011
488
233
2313
3034
2012
549
306
2046
2901
2013
319
198
1199
1716
2014
159
194
2510
2863
2015
134
106
1642
1882
2016
76
39
315
430
2017
25
0
0
25
Total*
4575
2317
21856
28748
Source: SATP, *Data till January 22, 2017

The number of major incidents (each involving three or more fatalities) in the Province also decreased by 76.97 per cent in 2016, in comparison to the previous year, principally due to the squeeze in the area of counter-insurgency operations. The Province accounted for 32 major incidents of violence resulting in 382 deaths in 2016, as against 139 such incidents, accounting for 1,868 fatalities in 2015.

There was a considerable decrease in incidents of explosion as well; in comparison to 72 blasts resulting in 140 fatalities in 2015, 2016 recorded 38 blasts resulting in 84 fatalities. However, while the number of suicide attacks in both these years stood at three each, the resultant fatalities increased from 18 in 2015 to 55 in 2016. 

Though incidents of sectarian violence registered a decrease, with just one incident in 2016 as compared to three in 2015, that one incident inflicted 37 fatalities and left another 72 wounded, while 2015 saw 32 fatalities and 72 injured. A suicide bomber killed at least 36 people and wounded more than 37 as they attended Friday prayers at a mosque in the Pekhan Killay area of Anbar tehsil in the Mohmand Agency of FATA. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a breakaway faction of TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack. 

The United States (US) drone programme, which had created havoc among terrorists over the past years, has been downsized, as the Pakistan Army launched operations in NWA, where dreaded terrorists of al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadur faction of TTP were sheltered. Washington had long been pressurising Islamabad to launch Operation against these groupings. There were just two drone attacks in FATA in 2016, as compared to 14 such attacks in 2015.

FATA has experienced relative calm in terms of terrorism-related activities, but the tribal people have suffered an enormous burden of destruction. Terrorism-afflicted parts of FATA require special attention for their development, but appear to be a low priority for the authorities concerned. This was reiterated by a special report of a sub-committee of the Senate's Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions released on November 25, 2016. The report asserted that “the Fata Annual Development Plans (ADP) for 2015-16 and 2016-17 contain new education and health facilities in different tribal agencies, but such schemes for SWA have been abandoned. The development schemes launched in the region in 2007 and beyond could not be completed because of the law and order situation there.” The committee’s main focus of study was development issues in FATA, particularly in South Waziristan Agency (SWA), and problems being faced by its people.

A total of 5.3 million people in FATA have been displaced as a consequence of counter-terrorism operations since 2008, some of them multiple times. Of these, 4.8 million have returned, with about 700,000 returning in 2016. A multi-cluster assessment of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and FATA confirmed the pressing need for livelihoods and basic social service. IDPs living in temporary camps were unwilling to return to their war ravaged areas. Orakzai Agency was among the areas which had purportedly been cleared of terrorists, but displaced families were unwilling to return, even as the Government threatened to ‘deregister’ them as IDPs. Like Orakzai, other parts of FATA including North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Khyber and Kurram, have been de-notified as conflict zones. During a meeting called by KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra at Peshawar on January 5, 2017, to discuss the return, rehabilitation and other issues related to the terrorism-hit people of FATA, the Government decided to deregister the IDPs disinclined to return to their native towns across FATA. According to an official statement, “The families living intentionally as temporarily dislocated persons would be deregistered just on a notice of four weeks time and the public would be informed through media in this respect.”

On January 17, 2017, Mehreen Afridi, Director FATA Youth Forum (FYF), urged the Government to reconstruct infrastructure that had been destroyed in FATA, observing that terrorists had destroyed educational institutions, hospitals and other health centres, roads, bridges and government installations, abodes of tribal people and their businesses during the last decade of terrorism in FATA.

Despite claims regarding the success of the protracted Operation Zarb-e-Azb, terrorist attacks at regular intervals underline the residual risks as well as the duplicity of the state. Before the initiation of the Operation, ample opportunity had been provided for most of the terrorists in FATA to slip out of the country, to take shelter in the bordering areas of Afghanistan. During the course of the Operation, no top-level commander of any militant group has been neutralized. Crucially, Pakistan continues to mobilize and support terrorist formations operating in Afghanistan, and the Pakistani terrorist groups operating domestically have formed close relations with these state sponsored groups, and their cadres are often indistinguishable. The blowback of Islamabad’s duplicitous linkages with the enterprise of terrorism continues to impact on the people of FATA in particular, and of Pakistan in general.

INDIA
Click for PrintPrint

Chhattisgarh: Struggling for Survival
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

A civilian, Sukhdev Baghel, was hacked to death by suspected Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres at a village in the Chintagufa area of Sukma District in the afternoon of January 19, 2017. According to the Police, "As per the eyewitness, two people armed with sharp weapons stormed into Baghel's shop and slit his throat before escaping from the spot."

Two women and a minor girl were killed while four others sustained injuries in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion near Godagaon village forest in Narayanpur District on January 18, 2017. According to preliminary information, the residents of nearby Tumnaar village, including some women and their children, were passing through the area where road construction work was underway. They inadvertently stepped on the pressure IED which exploded. Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) S.R.P. Kalluri noted, "The Maoists have planted the IEDs to target security forces [SFs] deployed to facilitate ongoing road construction on that axis."

A village sarpanch (head of the Panchayat, village level local self Government institution) was killed, by suspected Maoists at Masenar village in the Dantewada District in the night of January 17, 2017. According to the Police, “Raju Netam, the sarpanch of Masenar village, was hacked to death with an axe last night at his native place under Bhansi Police Station area…The exact reason behind the attack was yet to be ascertained as Netam was never on the target of ultras. Though some Maoist pamphlets were recovered from the spot, no specific reason has been mentioned in them behind the brutal murder (sic).”

At least five civilians have already been killed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in the current year (data till January 22, 2016). According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) data, at least 64 civilians were killed between January 1, 2016, and November 15, 2016. Another three civilians were killed between November 16, 2016, and December 31, 2016, according to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), yielding a total of at least 67 civilian deaths through 2016, as against 53 (UMHA data) through 2015, an increase of 26.41 per cent. Worryingly, this is the highest number of civilian fatalities in the State since 2011, when 124 such fatalities were recorded (UMHA data). Civilian fatalities had dropped to 67 (UMHA data) in 2013. However, at the peak of Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-linked violence in the State in 2006, Chhattisgarh accounted for 304 civilian fatalities (UMHA data).

Most of the civilians killed were branded as 'police informers', even as the Maoists continue to suffer losses at the hands of the SFs in operations backed by deep penetration by intelligence agencies into ‘their areas’ with the help of the local population. Indeed, CPI-Maoist ‘East Division secretary’, Pratap Reddy aka Ramchandra Reddy aka Appa Rao aka Chalapathi, in an interview published on July 21, 2016, stated, “I must add that in the conspiracy to eliminate the Maoist party, the ruling classes and the State Government have been exploiting people in the tribal areas by converting them as police informer and agents. Such people are being given arms by the police and a special police officer (SPO) network created. It is such elements that we are eliminating.” By eliminating these alleged 'police informers' the Maoists believe they can break the information chain the SFs have built to target the Maoists deep inside their 'safe heavens'. At least 56 Maoist leaders, including 25 ‘commander’ level cadres, have been killed in Chhattisgarh alone out of a total of 98 killed across India since 2010.   

Moreover, according to UMHA data available since 2003, SFs achieved their best ever kill ratio in their fight against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh in 2016 – at 1:3.19 (115 Maoists killed as against 36 SF personnel). 47 SF personnel and 48 Maoists were killed in 2015, i.e., a kill ratio of 1:1.02 in favour of the SFs. Prior to that, the SFs secured a positive kill ratio of 1:1.11 and 1:1.18, respectively, only twice in the past, in 2009 and 2004. On the other hand, Maoists had twice achieved a kill ratio of three or above – in 2003 (1: 3.75) and 2007 (1:3). In the current year (data till January 20, 2017), the SFs have eliminated seven Maoists while losing one of their own troopers.

SFs have also arrested large numbers of Maoists. UMHA data indicates that at least 686 Maoists were arrested in 2016 (up to November 15) adding to 512 in 2015. At least 687 Maoists were arrested in 2014 and 387 in 2013. The mounting pressure has also resulted in the surrender of 1,174 Maoists in 2016 (up to November 15), as against just 173 surrenders in the corresponding period of 2015. Total surrenders through 2015 stood at 323. There were 413 surrenders in 2014 and a mere 28 in 2013. The Chhattisgarh Government has made liberal changes in the existing “surrender and rehabilitation policy” for Maoists in the State. In one such lucrative addition, the Chhattisgarh Government decided that, upon surrender “the individual will be watched for six months, and if his behaviour is deemed to be good”, he will be eligible for a government job. A Cabinet Subcommittee “may also take back criminal cases against him.”

Crippling and cumulative losses have hit Maoist activities in the State. For instance, Chhattisgarh recorded 381 Maoist-linked incidents in 2016 (up to November 15), as against 453 such incidents in the corresponding period of 2015. There was a total of 466 such incidents through 2015.

Nevertheless, the trend in civilian killings indicates that the Maoists continue to pose potent threat to security in the State. Further, an analysis of partial fatalities data compiled by the SATP for the Bastar Division of the State suggests that, though the Maoists are losing their hold in the region, they still retain a strong presence and operational capabilities. The Bastar Division comprises seven of Chhattisgarh’s 27 Districts – Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Sukma – but accounted for 202 fatalities out of a total of 207 recorded in the Maoist-related violence in the State through 2016, i.e., a staggering 97.58 per cent. Similarly, in 2015, the Bastar Division accounted for 95.83 per cent of total fatalities in the State. Worryingly, on October 26, 2016, the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), disclosed that the CPI-Maoist was reportedly working on a plan to create a new ‘guerrilla zone’ along the Chhattisgarh-Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh (MP) border region as an “extension” of its current stronghold in Bastar. The proposed new ‘guerrilla zone’, will be nestled in the Satpura Hills range, spreading over eight Districts in the three States of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and MP, with the objective of facilitating the expansion of the CPI-Maoist base north and east of Bastar. Of these eight Districts, the Maoists have already established bases in Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, Balaghat in MP and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Efforts are underway to expand into the border Districts of Kawardha and Mungeli in Chhattisgarh; Mandla and Dindori in MP; and Gondia in Maharashtra. The new ‘guerrilla zone’ would function under the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), presently the most powerful entity within the CPI-Maoist operational setup.

SFs have achieved tremendous success in their fight against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh over the past few years, despite great odds. For instance, according to the latest Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) data, as against a sanctioned strength of 425 Police Stations, the State has only 402. Shockingly, 161 of these 402 Police Stations are without any vehicle. There are 14 Police Stations without a telephone connection. The State has 55,330 policemen, as against a sanctioned strength of 65,749, leaving at least 15.84 posts vacant. In this highly Maoist-afflicted state, the Police/Area Ratio (number of policemen per 100 square kilometers) is 40.93, as against the sanctioned strength of 48.63. The all-India ratio stands at 54.69, as against a sanction of 72.03. Governments, both at the central and state levels, continue to have fail to address these issues and deficits.

After a successful experiment with the District Reserve Group (DRG), a special wing of the Chhattisgarh Police used exclusively for anti-Maoist operational duties in the Bastar Division, the State Government, on July 1, 2016, suggested raising a ‘Dandakaranya Battalion’ in the Armed Forces, on the lines of the Naga Regiment of the Indian Army, to facilitate the entry of tribal youth from the Maoist-hit Bastar Division. Meanwhile, to augment the State’s capacity to counter the Maoists, the Centre has approved the setting up of the ‘Bastariya Battalion’ of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is likely to be established in 2017, recruiting youth mostly from the Bastar region. Reports indicate that DRG carried out 644 anti-LWE operations in 2015, both individually and in coordination with other State and paramilitary Forces, during which they gunned down 46 ultras. No such data is available for 2016.

At a time when the CPI-Maoist is at its lowest ebb since its inception in September 2004, there is simply no room for complacence. Any lackadaisical approach can facilitate a Maoist resurrection as they are still not a spent force, and have repeatedly demonstrated their capacities to recover from reverses in the past.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 16- 22, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

BANGLADESH

 

Left-wing Extremism

0
0
2
2

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

0
0
1
1

Assam

0
2
2
4

Meghalaya

1
0
0
1

Manipur

1
0
1
2

Left-Wing Extremism

Chhattisgarh

5
0
0
5

Total (INDIA)

7
2
4
13

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

2
4
0
6

FATA

25
0
0
25

Punjab

0
0
4
4

Sindh

4
0
0
4

Total (PAKISTAN)

31
4
4
39
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Anti-liberation forces are killing people and unleashing terrorism in country, says President Abdul Hamid: President Abdul Hamid addressing the seventh national conference of Ekattorer Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee at the Institution of Engineers Bangladesh (IEB) auditorium in Dhaka city on January 19 said that the anti-liberation forces are killing people and unleashing terrorism in the country. He said "The anti-liberation forces are killing people and unleashing terrorism in the country, spreading the poison of communalism in the name of religion in their evil bid to block the country's development and stigmatize the holy religion. We must conserve and help flourish our thousand-year-old non-communal spirit and values. We must implement the ideology of our Liberation War." The Daily Star, January 20, 2017. 


INDIA

Naga militants got funds from State Government departments, reveals NIA probe: Investigation Agency's (NIA) probe into institutionalized extortion rackets run by Naga militant groups in Nagaland has revealed that these militant formations were getting money allegedly from 14 State Government Departments. The news report names the Naga militant groups involved as the Khaplang faction of Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), Isak-Muivah faction of NSCN (NSCN-IM) and Naga National Council (NNC). The Indian Express, January 21, 2017. 

Naxalite faction leads land agitation in West Bengal: Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) (Red Star), a Naxalite [Left Wing Extremist (LWE)] outfit that has contested elections has token presence in Kerala and West Bengal, has led land agitation near Kolkata. CPI-ML (Red Star) has become the key organiser of a movement at Bhangar village in South 24 Parganas District. It is to be noted that the villagers are demanding cancellation of a power grid project designed to transmit electricity through high tension overhead lines. The Hindustan Times, January 18, 2017.

Walk away from terror to start talks, states, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Underlining that India alone cannot walk the path of peace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi January 17, urged Pakistan to "walk away from terror" if it wants resumption of bilateral dialogue. On relations with China, Modi said it was not unnatural for two large neighbours to have some differences but both sides should show sensitivity and respect for each other's core concerns and interests”. The Indian Express, January 18, 2017. 

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh approves 50 new Police Stations in Chhattisgarh: Union Home Minister (UHM) Rajnath Singh assured Chhattisgarh Government of greater road connectivity, new Police Stations and mobile towers in the Naxal-affected Districts while chairing a review meeting on anti-Naxal campaign and development at the Chief Minister (CM) Raman Singh's residence in Raipur District. UHM approved 50 new Police Stations, installation of 35 additional mobile towers and improving the road network. 850 kilometres will be constructed new roads in the Naxal-affected areas. Sixteen out of the 27 Districts of Chhattisgarh have the presence of rebels. The Indian Express, January 17, 2017.


NEPAL

Government would announce election date soon based on political agreement, says Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal talking to media persons at Tribhuvan International Airport after his arrival home from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 17 said the Government would announce the election date soon based on political agreement. Preparations are underway to announce the dates soon, he said, reminding that he had talked to the Election Commission officials before his departure. According to him, they urged the government for bringing in elected-related laws. Dahal reiterated that all parties' consensus was essential to the announcement of election dates. The Himalayan Times, January 18, 2017. 

Existence of Kathmandu is unimaginable without presence of Madhes, says Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal addressing a programme organized by the Nepali community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 15 said the existence of Kathmandu (meaning the center) is unimaginable without the presence of the Madhes. "The responsibility of maintaining unity among the mountain, hill and Terai falls upon the shoulders of us all," he said, adding that Kathmandu and Madhes were the indispensable parts. He went to say that the constitution amendment proposal presented to the House was for protecting national unity and integrity. My Republica, January 17, 2017. 


PAKISTAN

25 persons killed and more than 87 others injured in bomb blast in FATA: 25 people were killed and more than 87 were injured in a bomb blast at the Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market) area of Parachinar in the Kurram Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the morning of January 21, 2017. A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the improvised explosive device (IED) blast took place at 08:50am. Government official Shahid Khan stated that the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables. In a text message sent to journalists, the al-Alami (International) faction of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed that it, along with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter Shehryar Mehsud group, carried out the attack. The Shehryar Mehsud group did not independently claim the bombing. Dawn, January 21, 2017. 

Foreign agencies funding groups to destabilise country, Senate told: The Senate (The upper house of Parliament) was told on January 19 that certain foreign intelligence agencies funded [militant] groups in Pakistan to destabilise it. Answering a question about major sources of funding being used in acts of terrorism in the country, Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman said it was difficult to pinpoint with 100 per cent accuracy the sources of terrorism funding. But some of the generally perceived sources include extortion and funding by foreign intelligence agencies. Dawn, January 20, 2017. 

Karachi operation to continue, no change in policy or strategy, says CoAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa: The Chief of the Army Staff (CoAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on January 19 met leaders from the business and trader communities and assured them of continuation of the security operation in Karachi, the statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. "The Karachi operation will continue till the elimination of crime in the city," said Army chief. He added that all possible measures will be taken to restore peace in Karachi, and said that the strategy for Karachi would remain the same and there would be no change in policy. Dawn, January 20, 2017. 


SRI LANKA

Delimitation Review Committee hands over final report to Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils:Delimitation Review Committee reviewing the demarcation of electoral boundaries in local Government wards handed over its much-awaited final report to the Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils Faizer Mustapha on January 17. The Ministry of Local Government appointed the five-member committee on December 1, 2015, to look into discrepancies regarding demarcation of boundaries and shortcomings of the report submitted by the National Delimitation Commission (NDC). It was entrusted to carryout demarcation activities after reviewing the appeals made with regard to demarcation of 206 out of 336 local Government areas. Colombo Page, January 18, 2017. 

Constitution is outdated and should be changed in keeping with today's needs, says UNP MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha: United National Party (UNP) Member of Parliament (MP) Nalin Bandara Jayamaha on January 16 said that Constitution is outdated and should be changed in keeping with today's needs. "The party believes that this Constitution is outdated and it should be changed in keeping with today's needs. It is interesting to see those who opposed the 1978 constitution now attempting to cling to the Constitution," he said. Daily Mirror, January 17, 2017.