SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 19-25, 2009
Government bans Hizb ut-Tahrir: The Bangladesh Government on October 22, 2009 banned the Hizb ut-Tahrir in the interest of public security. "The organisation has been banned as it has been carrying out anti-State, anti-Government, anti-people and anti-democratic activities for long in the country," Home Minister Sahara Khatun told Daily Star. She said a circulation would be issued soon to this effect. "The file on banning Hizb ut-Tahrir came to me today [October 22] and I signed it," Sahara said, adding that some other similar organisations which have been carrying out subversive activities would be banned gradually. The Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder said, "From today [October 22] the organisation's activities have been banned for the sake of public security."
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an international Islamist political party founded in Jerusalem in 1953. The party started its activities in Bangladesh in 2000. According to the group’s Website (www.khilafat.org), Mohiuddin Ahmed is the chief coordinator and spokesman of the party and its central office is located at HM Siddique Mansion, 55/A Purana Paltan, 4th Floor, Dhaka. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a pan-Islamist group whose goal is to establish a global Islamic caliphate. They have been banned in a number of countries, mainly in Central Asia and the Middle East. The group’s Bangladesh coordinator and spokesman Mohiuddin Ahmed said the allegation against his organisation was "completely baseless". "We are law-abiding citizens of the country. We are not involved in any militancy activities. The government banned us because we have been raising voices against its fascist character," he told AFP. The Daily Star, October 23, 2009.
Maoists get arms from abroad, says Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram: The Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, disclosed on October 24, 2009 that the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) was acquiring arms through Bangladesh, Myanmar and possibly Nepal. There was no evidence of any money flowing in from abroad to the Maoists but "there is certainly evidence of weapons being smuggled from abroad through Myanmar or Bangladesh" and possibly Nepal, he said in an interview to PTI. PTI News, October 24, 2009.
Government ready for talks with Maoists if they abjure violence, reiterates Union Home Minster: The Union Government on October 20, 2009 reiterated that it is ready to start a process of holding dialogue with the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) provided the outfit eschewed violence. The Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, said the Government would be willing to start a process "through which the State government[s] concerned and the Central government can hold talks with them [CPI-Maoist] on any issue that concerns them and the people they claim to represent." He noted that the only hurdle in holding talks with the CPI-Maoist was the violence that stalked the areas in which they operated. He pointed out that recent statements made by the CPI-Maoist leaders, Muppala Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy and Mallojula Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, justified violence and armed struggle. He revealed that in 2009 alone, the CPI-Maoist had caused 183 violent attacks on economic targets, including railway tracks, telephone towers, power plants, mines, school buildings and panchayat (village level local self Government institution) buildings. There were at least 21 acts of violence during the two-day shutdown called by the Maoists on October 13-14, he added. The Government was also concerned about the real issues that affected people – food security, land and forest rights, education, health and justice, he pointed out.
The Minister made the offer in a letter to the former Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) Speaker, Rabi Ray, who along with other members of civil society, under the banner of newly-launched Citizens Initiative for Peace, had urged the Government to begin a dialogue with the CPI-Maoist and stop the offensive against the insurgents in some States. The hindu, October 21, 2009.
233 militants and 33 civilians among 290 persons killed during the week in FATA: 23 militants were killed as troops advanced deeper into the Taliban-controlled territory in South Waziristan and captured Gherlama, an important position north of Kotkai, the hometown of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakeemullah Mehsud. Four soldiers are reported to have died in fierce gun-battles in areas around Gherlama, Kotkai, Nawazkot and Spinqamer. Shin Gher, a vital hilltop near Razmak in North Waziristan, was also captured. Tanks, backed by military jets and helicopter gunships, are reported to have targeted Taliban positions. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), troops secured the important Tarkona Narai hill after a 16-hour gun-battle and made gains on the Jandola-Sararogha axis, securing important ridges. Tarkona Narai, the highest feature on an important junction east of Sherwangi, has also been secured on the Shakai-Kaniguram axis. Meanwhile, many displaced people arriving in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank Districts of the NWFP said that the militants had left the villages recently captured by Security Forces days before the launch of the military operation in South Waziristan.
Six militants and three soldiers were killed in a clash in the Mattak village of Nawagai sub-division in Bajaur Agency on October 25. Further, six militants were killed when jet fighters targeted their hideouts in the Ghiljo area in Upper Orakzai Agency on October 25. Eyewitnesses said that two hideouts and a camp of the Taliban were also destroyed in the air strikes. Separately, two militants were killed and four others sustained injuries while two explosives-laden vehicles were destroyed in action by the Security Forces (SFs) in the Khyber Agency on October 25.
21 Taliban militants and three soldiers killed were killed as the SFs took control of Kotkai in South Waziristan, an important TTP stronghold and the native town of its chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, after intense fighting on October 24. Addressing a joint press conference with Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, the ISPR Director General, Major General Athar Abbas, said 21 terrorists had been killed and three soldiers martyred while eight people had been injured.
A suspected US drone killed 33 militants in the Bajaur Agency on October 24. The drone targeted a Taliban shura (executive council) meeting in the Damadola area, 12 kilometres north of Khar, the agency headquarters. Sources in the political administration said the TTP deputy chief Maulvi Faqir left the incident site minutes before the strike, adding that his relatives were among the dead.
18 persons, including some women and children, were killed and six others sustained injuries when a bus hit a landmine in the Mohmand Agency on October 23. According to Mohmand Rifles, the bus carrying wedding guests from Rawalpindi hit the mine at Suran Darra Chowk, some 25 kilometres from the Mamad Gat Frontier Corps camp. "The device was placed by militants who wanted to hit tanks and armoured personnel carriers," official sources said. No group claimed responsibility for planting the mine, but local people and officials believe it was the work of militants in reaction to a search operation carried out in the area by security agencies a few days ago. Separately, five militants were killed when military planes and artillery attacked their positions in the Mulla Syed and Banda areas of Bajaur Agency on October 23.
Fierce fighting was reported from the Sherwangai area in South Waziristan Agency as troops started their advance towards the militants’ strongholds on the Shakai-Ladha axis on October 23, the seventh day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat. The Army claimed killing 13 militants, raising the casualty toll of the Taliban to 142 since October 17. However, the Taliban said only three of their men were killed since the launch of the operation. However, claims from both sides could not be confirmed.
SFs continued consolidating positions in the Tor Ghundai and Gurgurai Sar areas of South Waziristan on the sixth day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat on October 22. According to the ISPR, 24 militants and two Army soldiers were killed and four soldiers were wounded in different areas on the Jandola-Srarogha and Shakai-Ladha axis. There was no comment from the Taliban about the casualty toll. Sources said 12 of the slain militants were foreigners. Although Army officials confirmed the killing of two soldiers, independent sources put the death toll at four. Displaced people arriving in Tank and Dera Ismail Khan through different routes said Taliban positions were being targeted with artillery, jet fighters and gunship helicopters in Makeen, Ladha and Srarogha. They said majority of the areas where the troops had reached and which were once considered the strongholds of Taliban had been vacated by the civilians.
Five militants were killed and four others sustained injuries in clashes with the SFs in different areas of Bajaur Agency on October 22. In addition, the SFs claimed to have killed three militants and demolished their seven houses and six hideouts during operations in different areas of the Mohmand Agency on October 22.
Fighter jets targeted Taliban hideouts in South Waziristan on October 21, as the army hoisted the national flag in the Shingwari area on the fifth day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat. An ISPR press release stated that, in the past 24 hours, 15 Taliban militants had been killed and 10 injured after jet fighters and long-range artillery struck Taliban positions in the Badar, Sam, Sararogha, Nanoo, Ladah and Makeen areas. It said four soldiers, including an officer, had also died in the same period. In addition, 12 persons, including Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants, were killed and several others injured in a bomb blast in Surkot village, five kilometres east of Miranshah, headquarters of the North Waziristan Agency, on October 21-evening. Tribal and Taliban sources said four houses were destroyed in the blast caused by explosives dumped inside the house in Surkot. Separately, three militants were killed and as many injured during a search operation in the Charmang area of Bajaur Agency on October 21.
The army killed 20 militants on the fourth day of Operation Rah-e-Nijat against the TTP in South Waziristan, the military said on October 20, as troops intensified the battle for the control of Kotkai. The TTP claimed they killed seven soldiers in an attack, but the army said only four soldiers had been killed in the assault on positions around Kotkai – the hometown of TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud and trainer of suicide bombers Qari Hussain. "We are consolidating our positions around Kotkai, and control of this town will pave the way for deeper advances towards Makeen and other strongholds of the Taliban," said military officials. They said troops battling their way into Kotkai were facing resistance from the Taliban. Separately, SFs on October 20 killed three militants and arrested two others during the ongoing operation in the Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency. Further, two of the six recruits of the Frontier Corps abducted by unidentified gunmen were shot dead by the captors and their bodies dumped in the Yakh Kandao area of Orakzai Agency on October 20. The Orakzai Agency unit of the TTP had earlier issued threats to the tribesmen to stop joining the SFs or face consequences.
18 Taliban militants and two soldiers were killed and 12 soldiers were injured in the last 24 hours in South Waziristan, the ISPR Director General, Major General Athar Abbas, said on October 19. He told journalists at a press conference that the SFs were advancing from three fronts: on the Jandola–Sararogha axis, on the Shakai-Ladha axis and from the south and southwest of Razmak. He said the SFs had surrounded Kotkai, the hometown of Qari Hussain – reportedly the "mentor of suicide bombers" - and secured Tor Ghundai (east of Kotkai) and Shishwarm (northeast of Kotkai). He said the SFs were consolidating positions after securing Sherwangi despite stiff resistance from the Taliban. Further, 12 members of a displaced family were killed when a bomb hit them in South Waziristan on October 19. The dead included some women and children. According to sources, the family was fleeing the army operation against militants in Hendi Zawar area.
14 militants were killed and several others sustained injuries when jet fighters targeted militant hideouts in the Yakkaghund and Baizai subdivisions of Mohmand Agency on October 19. Official sources said fighter planes of the Pakistan Air Force targeted the militant hideouts in Karair, Koz Chinari, Shamshah, Spinki Tangi and Badmanai areas of the Yakkaghund subdivision and the Dawezai area of Baizai. In addition, three children were killed in the Dawezai area of Baizai sub-division when some bombs missed the target and hit a civilian area.
Six Taliban militants were killed and three others injured during operations by the SFs in the Salarzai and Mamoond sub-divisions of Bajaur Agency on October 19. In another incident, a suspected Taliban militant was killed while attempting to build a bomb in the Mandal area of Bajaur Agency. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, October 20-26, 2009.
Balochistan minister assassinated in Quetta: Unidentified gunmen killed the Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, outside his residence in the provincial capital Quetta on October 25, 2009. The Baloch Liberation United Front claimed responsibility for the assassination. Police in Quetta said unidentified motorcyclists shot dead the minister outside his residence on Thogai Road, while his brother’s father-in-law, Hydayat Jaffar, was injured in the same attack. Shafiq Khan is the second minister from Balochistan to have been killed over the last two months. Daily Times, October 26, 2009.
Eight persons killed and 17 injured in suicide bombing near Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra: Eight persons were killed and 17 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber exploded himself at a Police check-post on the GT Road near the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in Kamra in the Attock District of Punjab province in the morning on October 23. According to District administration sources, a suicide bomber blew himself when Security Force personnel intercepted him at the check-post near the PAC, some 60 kilometres from the national capital Islamabad. Consequently, eight persons were killed and 17 others were injured. District Police chief Fakhar Sultan said the attack killed six civilians and two Pakistan Air Force personnel. The Air Force said 15 security staff were wounded and confirmed two of its personnel were dead. "We have found a mutilated face, as well as other body parts, including legs and arms of the bomber," said Sultan. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. The News, October 24, 2009.
Six persons killed and 29 injured in twin suicide attacks at International Islamic University in Islamabad: Two suicide bombers targeted the new campus of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) in the H-10 sector of Islamabad on October 20, 2009 killing at least six students and staff members, including two female students, and injuring more than 29 others. The Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad, Amer Ali Ahmad, said that the deceased were identified as Sidra Khalid (student), Hina (student), Pervaiz Masih (sanitary worker), Shaukat Bhatti (security guard), Amna (worker) and Khalil-ur-Rehman (student). This is the first terrorist attack on an educational institution in Islamabad. The first blast occurred at the cafeteria of the women’s campus at 3:07 pm while another took place at the Sharia bloc five minutes later, damaging the main structure of the building and dozens of cars parked near the blast site. The Inspector General of Police in Islamabad, Syed Kaleem Imam, said that a suspect, identified as ‘GM’, was arrested from the scene after the suicide attack at the cafeteria. He said the suspect belonged to Khanewal and had studied at the IIUI some seven years back. Kaleem Imam said according to the preliminary investigation, each bomber used 4 to 5 kilograms of explosive material and one and a half to two kg of pellets and ‘C-4’ kind of explosives were used in each suicide belt. The News, October 21, 2009.