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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 12, No. 48, June 2, 2014

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


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Balochistan: IEDs: The Price of Deceit
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

At least six Security Force (SF) personnel were killed and another three were injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast in the Shati Kandao area of Pandyali tehsil (revenue unit) in the Mohmand Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on May 24, 2014. The IED, planted on the roadside, exploded when an SF vehicle was passing by.

On May 8, 2014, at least nine Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were killed and several others were injured when terrorists triggered an IED targeting an SF convoy near the Miranshah Road in the Ghulam Khan tehsil of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) in FATA.

No terrorist group claimed responsibility for these two attacks.

On September 15, 2013, Major General, Sanaullah Khan, General Officer Commanding (GOC), Swat Division, Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef, and Lance Naik, Irfan Sattar were killed in an IED explosion in the Upper Dir District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) along the Pak-Afghan Border. Another two soldiers were injured in the explosion. In this case, the Swat ‘chapter’ of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility in a 20-minute video released on September 29.

IED attacks have become a daily occurrence in Pakistan. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the country has witnessed at least 4,262 IED explosions since 2007, the year of the formation of the TTP, resulting in 9,588 fatalities and over 23,692 injuries (data till May 31, 2014). The first five months of current year have already recorded at least 212 incidents, resulting in 395 fatalities and over 1,158 injured.

IED Explosions in Pakistan: 2007-2014*




















Source: SATP, *Data till May 31, 2014

These numbers are likely underestimates, since media access is heavily restricted in the most disturbed areas of Pakistan, and there is only fitful release of information by Government agencies. Indeed, the then Federal Minister for Interior, Rehman Malik, on July 5, 2011, calling IEDs a “lethal weapon” that needed to be snatched from terrorists to ensure peace in Pakistan, disclosed that 11,024 people had died and another 25,291 were injured, in incidents involving IEDs. He did not, however, specify the time period. He had also indicated that 1,972 buildings, 79 bridges, 360 electric poles and 231 railway tracks had been destroyed across Pakistan by IED explosions. Similarly, citing a US report, The Express Tribune reported on February 12, 2013, that, over the preceding decade, some 33,150 IED explosions took place across Pakistan, resulting in 11,250 fatalities, and injuring another over 21,000 people.

Official sources indicate that IED related incidents have been on the rise. KP’s Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) chief, Additional Inspector General of Police Shafqat Malik, on January 5, 2012, disclosed that “During 2010, the BDS defused 390 IEDs, while about 270 exploded. In 2011, the number of IEDS defused was 664 and those which exploded were about 469. This shows the use of IEDs has almost doubled from last year...” Malik noted, moreover, that the terrorists' strategies changed during 2011, “Instead of going for big car bombings, we have seen more than 100 incidents of remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (RCIEDs), which speaks to how they changed strategy after our counter-terrorism measures... deprived them of their supplies.”

With the security establishment deeply disturbed by the IED menace, an inter-agency meeting, headed by Lieutenant General Rashad Mahmood, the then Chief of General Staff (CGS), was held on February 11, 2013.  During the meeting it was decided to create a new force to combat the increasing use of IEDs in terrorism incidents. However, no further details in this regard are available in the open media.

A March 2, 2014, media report, quoting a defence official claimed that the anti-IED Division established within the armed forces, had become fully functional in multidimensional anti-IED operations in various cities and troubled areas of the country. At the same time, comprehensive awareness campaigns were also in the process of being launched. According to the official, extra security measures had been taken at all levels and on all tiers in order to curb the incidents of IED attacks in market places, civilian gatherings and religious processions.

In 2012, the Army established the Counter-IED, Explosives and Munitions School (CIEMS) to help train responders to reduce the IED threat. The School is at the heart of the state's counter-IED measures, and, CIEMS Chief Instructor Brigadier Basim Saeed claimed, on April 22, 2014, has helped the country slash the frequency of IED incidents by 20 per cent since its establishment. SATP data confirms that year 2013 registered a decline of 21.62 per cent in IED incidents as compared to 2012. However, there is little evidence of any enduring gains in the trend, with a 70 per cent increase in attacks recorded in January 2014, as against December 2013.

Moreover, IED-related incidents have become more lethal. According to SATP data, though the number of such incidents decreased to 511 in 2013 as compared to 652 in 2012, resultant fatalities increased considerably, from 1,007 in 2012 to 1,550 in 2013, an increase of 53.92 percent. In 2011, the number of incidents and resultant fatalities stood at 639 and 1,092, respectively.

Augmenting specific counter-IED capacities and capabilities may help contain the rate of escalation in terrorist trends, but will inevitably be neutralized by improving terrorist resources as well. The Pakistani state has created vast spaces for the operation of armed terrorist formations on and from its soil. Unless the base strategy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy - both for domestic political management and external strategic extension - is abandoned, groups that have turned against their own creators in the establishment will continue to successfully exploit these spaces.

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UAVs: Tentative Flight
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

Two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were deployed in Bihar on May 27 and 28, 2014, to monitor movement of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres in Aurangabad, Gaya and Jamui Districts. Earlier, in February, UAVs had been used in Bihar in anti-Maoist operations for the first time.  A senior officer associated with the anti-Maoist operations reportedly disclosed, after the induction of the UAVs, that security personnel had been able to pick up conversations and movements of the Maoists on the ground: “The drones flash real-time images of the movement and conversation of the Maoists and send the data immediately to the commandos. We can also get pictures of the exit routes of the rebels with the help of the drones and take action accordingly.”

However, optimism over the utility of the UAVs notwithstanding, there have been few operational successes to boast of on the basis of data provided by UAVs. Nevertheless, in May 2012, when Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon was abducted by the Maoists, UAV surveillance had spotted Menon and his Maoist abductors and even picked up some ground conversations. However, UAV surveillance was withdrawn as negotiations progressed. Again, in January 2013, when an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter hit by Maoist fire force-landed in Sukma District (Chhattisgarh), and was abandoned along with an injured radio operator by the IAF crew, UAVs reportedly maintained surveillance through most of the night, until Security Forces (SFs) arrived to secure the area.

The most dramatic failure of the UAVs came in May 2013, when they generated no specific intelligence before or after the Maoist attack on the convoy of the Congress party in Darbha Vally on May 25, which resulted in the killing of at least 28 persons, including Mahendra Karma, the controversial architect of the Salwa Judum, and other top Congress leaders. Nearly 300 Maoists had taken part in the attack, but their gathering and movement went entirely undetected. In this case, it was noted that whatever efficiency the drones could have shown, despite the technical weakness of not being able to penetrate foliage and not being able to distinguish a Maoist from an ordinary villager, was undone because of the location of the operational base of the UAVs.

A pilot project to use aerial surveillance in anti-Naxal operations was started in 2006 in Chhattisgarh. However, the UAVs, deployed in August 2006 at the Raipur airfield, were "forcefully grounded" after failing to collect adequate information about Maoist movements in the State. While it was officially claimed that the operation was withdrawn due to bad weather, there was evidence that UAV monitoring was being deliberately undermined by leaks from within the establishment. IAF officers managing the UAV operations in the State complained that 'intelligence leaks on flight details' had undermined the utility of the spy drones. Unnamed IAF officials hinted at a 'lack of will' in the State Government and problems of coordination with the State Forces. In the initial months of UAV deployment, a number of Maoist 'hotspots' had been detected, but there were no follow-up operations by the forces.

After the initial failure UAVs were again tested in 2009. The trials of the UAVs, developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), were conducted in Hissar and Delhi, while more trials were to be conducted in the jungles of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Then in 2010 a US Honeywell manufactured UAV, whose pilotless planes had reportedly been used successfully by Allied Forces in the hunt for targets in war-hit Afghanistan and Iraq, was tested from the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in Kanker, Chhattisgarh. The test was witnessed by officials from Chhattisgarh, the Union Home Ministry, as well as Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The program, however, failed to take off.

After many failed starts, 12 Israeli-made Searcher tactical UAVs were imported in 2012 for intelligence gathering over the Naxal areas of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. These were (and are still) being flown from National Technical Research Organisation's (NTRO) base in Begumpet near Hyderabad. The Begumpet Airport from where the NTRO directs and flies reconnaissance missions, is more than 500 kilometres away from South Bastar. As one official, on conditions of anonymity, observed, “The UAVs take 2-3 hours to cover 500 kilometres. Moreover, their range is 900-1000 kilometres, which means that an aerial vehicle flying from Begumpet would hardly touch South Bastar and would then need to fly back.” This has been one of the principal reasons why the utility of the UAVs has been severely restricted, and why they proved useless before and after the May 25 Darbha Valley attack. 

It is not that the issue of range of the UAVs was not given consideration while operation from Begumpet. Rather, in 2012, the IAF reportedly rejected calls for the fleet to be relocated at Jagdalpur, in Bastar arguing that living facilities at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-run airstrip in Jagdalpur did not meet the standards its pilots expected. Instead, the IAF suggested relocating the drones to an airstrip operated by the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) in Bhilai — some 250 kilometres from Jagdalpur, somewhat less than half the distance from Hyderabad.

In April 2012, then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had directed that a UAV base be set up in Bhilai near Raipur in "less than two months". But even a year later (by May 2013) meetings continued to be held between MHA, NTRO and the IAF, but nothing was resolved. The then Union Home Secretary R.K Singh noted that "being a scare resource, optimisation of UAV effort for operations against left wing extremists is a critical need" and added, "more delays will not be tolerated." The IAF, however, responded, "The IAF provides assistance in the form of training and augmented specialist manpower for operations at whichever base the NTRO operates from. The IAF recommends and is fully supportive of the move to operating bases closer to the affected areas." Despite all these statements, things remain much the same even today.

In the aftermath of May 25, 2013 Darbha valley attack, it was decided to expedite the process of setting up of Bhilai base. Within a month an understanding was reached between the SAIL and the NTRO, which operates the UAVs. It was claimed that it was only a matter of a "short time" before UAVs started doing daily sorties from Bhilai. While none of the officials were willing to come on record regarding a specific date, it was believed that the shifting of the base would occur by the end of 2013.

However, even in June 2014, the NTRO base at Bhilai is yet to become operational and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has 'requested' NTRO to expedite the process. According to some Police officers, the UAVs have become a "white elephant" despite the "fact that the UAV can be deployed to gather intelligence after an attack to quickly locate the retreating Naxalites. Besides capturing images, it is also capable of picking up voices."

Critics also emphasize the technical limitations of the UAVs, particularly the fact that the electro-optical, thermal and radar sensors on the drones cannot penetrate the foliage of the primarily forested areas in which the Maoists find refuge. Large swathes of the afflicted territories on the Chhattisgarh-Odisha border are under dense forest cover, undermining the potential of the drones. Even outside of forested areas, drone sensors fail to distinguish between Maoist clusters and ordinary villagers. Crucially, the current misalignment of infrastructure and command and control systems for the UAVs have resulted in unacceptable delays in the analysis and transmission of intelligence to the responders. The IAF passes on the data harvested by its drones to the NTRO for analysis. The NTRO, however, doesn’t have real-time access to the ground intelligence being generated by the Police and Intelligence Bureau.

Meanwhile, the DRDO is developing UAVs for the for the field units of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Giving details of the UAV project during a media interaction at Defexpo in February 2014, DRDO chief Avinash Chander said the vehicles being developed would be able to help the Forces trace and track down the ultra Left operatives even in thick forests. Chander said the scientists of DRDO have worked closely with CRPF in developing the UAVs. "The two have worked closely on the configuration required for operation in such difficult areas.” He said for UAVs meant to work in thick Indian forests would operate on “lower frequency radars”. The DRDO Chief, however, cautioned, "No technology is available yet to penetrate the dense foliage of Indian tropical forests. We are working on lower frequency radars that will be able to penetrate foliage. Within a couple of years we will have a solution."

Despite the limitations of the available technology, the UAVs offer a ray of hope to SFs operating in difficult situations, with an acute dearth of human intelligence. Even if greater efficiencies could be brought into their location, command and control systems, and a greater measure of coordination could be introduced into the analysis and dispersal of intelligence from diverse sources, their effectiveness could be enormously enhanced. The present and characteristic delay in implementation of projects, moreover, is entirely avoidable. Many lives will be saved if the concerned authorities respond with a greater urgency, before the Maoists deliver another brutal reminder of their intentions and capabilities.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
May 27 - June 1, 2014



Security Force Personnel





Left-wing Extremism






Jammu and Kashmir






Left-wing Extremism






Total (INDIA)











Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Existing War Crimes Act inadequate, states Law Minister Anisul Haq: Law Minster Anisul Huq on May 29 said the amended War Crimes Act was not enough to try and punish any political party for its alleged crimes during the Liberation War of 1971. "There is no provision in the International Crimes [Tribunals] Act, 1973, which was amended later, to try and punish any political party," Anisul Huq stated. Daily Star; May 30, 2014.


LeT behind attack on Indian consulate in Herat, says Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai: Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is behind the attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat Province on May 23, 2014, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said on May 26. "According to information given to us by a Western intelligence agency, the perpetrators of the Herat attack belonged to the LeT. This was mentioned in writing in the report shared with us," he said. "Herat (incident) was very clearly a terrorist strike on Indian and Afghan interests. Luckily, the Indian and Afghan security forces were alert and they prevented major damage to life and property," he added. Jagran, May 27, 2014.

Arrested IM operative 'reveals' plan to eliminate Modi, says report: Arrested Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Haider Ali alias Black Beauty allegedly told interrogators from the Delhi Police's Crime Branch that had he succeeded in eliminating then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during Bharatiya Janata Party's Patna rally on October 26, 2013, he would have been taken to a Taliban training centre on the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) border. Haider, a confidant of IM founder Yasin Bhatkal, said Taliban subgroup Ansar-ul-Tauheed used to give training to IM and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operatives at the Af-Pak camp, according to sources. Times of India, May 30, 2014.

Naxals spreading base in urban areas, says Nagpur range IGP Ravindra Kadam: Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Nagpur Range, Ravindra Kadam, has said the arrest of Delhi University Assistant Professor G.N. Saibaba has proved yet again that the Naxalites-[Left-Wing Extremists (LWEs)] are spreading base in urban areas. Maharashtra Police is monitoring cities such as Pune, Mumbai, Nashik and Nagpur, he added. The Hindu, May 28, 2014.

NLFT has 15-20 hideouts in Bangladesh, says Police: An unnamed senior Police official have stated that National Liberation Front for Tripura (NLFT) has 15 to 20 hideouts in Bangladesh along with 80 or 90 cadres. He added that Biswmohan Debbarma, the 'chief' of NLFT, might be on the run from Dhaka to Myanmar to evade arrest. Shillong Times, May 26, 2014.


22 militants and eight civilians among 38 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 16 militants were killed as Security Forces (SFs) backed by gunship helicopters thwarted a cross border militant attack on a checkpost situated on Nao Top in Bajaur Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas on May 31.

Four persons were killed on May 29 in a sectarian attack as militants attacked a convoy of Sipah Tribe, a predominant Shia clan returning from a funeral in Lal Pura area of Orakzai Agency.

Three security officials were killed while two others were injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in Seen Tanga Towda Chena area of Frontier Region Bannu in the morning of May 29.

Three soldiers were killed and another two wounded in a roadside IED blast near Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on May 29.

At least six militants were killed and seven others sustained injuries in a fierce clash between rival factions of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) at Taunda Darra in Shawal tehsil (revenue unit) of NWA on May 27.

Five dead bodies were discovered in Uthmanzai area in the Pandyali tehsil of the Mohmand Agency on May 26. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia; The Nation; Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, May 27-June 2, 2014.

TTP's Hafiz Gul Bahadar group revokes peace agreement with Government: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) North Waziristan chapter led by Hafiz Gul Bahadar formally revoked the peace accord with the Government, a pamphlet distributed by the group in the area said. The faction, as the pamphlet sent to media by Bahadur's 'spokesman' Ahmadullah Ahmadi said, is now preparing to fight against what it said was the Security Forces' planned operation, giving locals time until June 10, 2014, to leave the area and move to safety. Daily Times, May 31, 2014.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar hiding in Pakistan, alleges Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai: Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on May 27 said that Taliban 'chief' Mullah Omar is hiding in Pakistan. Karzai didn't rule out the possibility that the terrorist is under protection in Pakistan. Times of India,, May 29, 2014.

Drone strikes on terrorists to continue, says US President Barack Obama: United States (US) President Barack Obama on May 28 made it clear that he will continue to authorize Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-operated drone strikes and covert operations abroad to capture terrorists based on "actionable intelligence", moves that are controversial in countries like Pakistan. Obama said there still would be times when America must go alone "when necessary to protect ourselves." Times of India,, May 29, 2014.


Only 137 ex-LTTE cadres remain to complete their rehabilitation program, says BCGR: According to the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (BCGR) sources, the Sri Lankan Government has successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated most of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres who had surrendered to the Security Forces (SFs) or were arrested by the authorities at the end of war in May 2009 and only 137 ex-LTTE cadres remain to complete their rehabilitation program. The BCGR under the leadership of Major General K.J. Wijetillake has so far rehabilitated and reintegrated 11,947 ex-LTTE cadres out of a total of 12,303. Sunday Leader, May 29, 2014.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

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