SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Red Surge in Gadchiroli
Gadchiroli, is one among the two most highly Naxalite (Left Wing Extremism) affected Districts of Maharashtra, located in the north-eastern part of the State. The other is the adjoining Gondiya District. Gadchiroli's geographical proximity to Chhattisgarh, the worst Naxal-affected Indian State and Andhra Pradesh, extremist stronghold, and its densely forested, hilly terrain, makes it ideal Maoist country. Critically, it covers parts of the Abujhmadh Forest, where the Maoist 'central zone' and national command centre is believed to be located.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal database, Maharashtra stands fourth in terms of fatalities, after Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, with 54 killed - five civilians, 34 Security Force (SF) personnel and 15 extremists - in a total of 13 incidents in the first seven months of 2009. The Gadchiroli District alone witnessed 11 of these incidents, resulting in all 54 fatalities. Significantly, the three major incidents (each with three or more fatalities) which took place in the State during the year occurred in the Dhanora tehsil (revenue unit) of Gadchiroli. By contrast, the whole of 2008 saw just 14 fatalities in as many as 17 recorded incidents. The last year of relatively high fatalities in the District, 2006, had 50 killed, but, crucially, as many as 34 of these were Maoists, as against just three SF personnel. 34 SF personnel and five civilians have already been killed in 2009, as against 15 Naxalites, clear evidence that the rebels have significantly consolidated their power, executing increasingly lethal attacks, even as SF operations have waned.
Fatalities in Gadchiroli District: 2005-2009
Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal
* Data till August 2, 2009
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Anti-Naxalite Operations, Pankaj Gupta, however, claimed that activities of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) had declined in Maharashtra, as the insurgents in the Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Gondiya Districts of the State were facing a 'shortage of cadre', following 'zero-recruitment' over the past few years. Gupta asserted that there had been a drop in Maoist-related crime and activities due to cadre shortage and an increase in the number of arrests and surrenders. Further, he stated that the number of encounters with Maoists in 2008 was 24, down from 34 and 40 in 2007 and 2006 respectively, and against 24 in 2005. About 320 Maoists had surrendered since August 29, 2005, when the State Government devised a Maoist Surrender Policy. A record number of 145 CPI-Maoist cadres had laid down arms in 2008, as against 93 in 2005, 67 in 2006 and 39 in 2007. The State Government extended financial assistance to the tune of INR 16.3 million under the surrender scheme. Speaking on the crime scenario, Gupta asserted that the Police had succeeded in killing as many as 41 Maoists between 2005 and 2008, including 22 in 2006, and 11 in 2008. The figures of extremists arrested in 2005 (302), 2006 (93), 2007 (138) and 2008 (123) were also "impressive" considering the stiff resistance and indiscriminate use of firearms by the Maoists. According to State Police data, Gupta conceded that six Policemen were killed in 2008, three in 2007, four in 2006 and 25 in 2005.
The February 2, 2009 incident, in which 15 SF personnel were killed, demonstrates how meticulously planned and sophisticated Maoist attacks now are. The Maoists had packed the forests around the site two days before the operation, and had ensured that the SF personnel were trapped in the village with little possibility of timely relief from outside. The SF party sent to rescue the first team also came under fire, preventing early reinforcement. "They ensured that none could enter or leave the area. They wanted to make sure word about their presence did not go out. An unnamed senior intelligence officer disclosed:
Although the Police denied initial reports suggesting that the Maoists mutilated the dead bodies of the Policemen, eyewitness accounts do confirm that a number of Policemen were overpowered and killed at close range.
Quite in contrast, weakness in the intelligence gathering of the Police at the local level has been major cause of the SFs' failure, undermining their operational capabilities. The Police intelligence network has been systematically undermined by the Maoists branding and killing people as 'police informers' in many cases arbitrarily, creating an atmosphere of enveloping terror that excludes the possibility of the SFs getting active help from civilians.
A well coordinated and effective combat mechanism could overcome several existing deficiencies, as was evident in the April 6 incident where the C-60, a special commando force, killed 14 CPI-Maoist cadres during a three hour-long encounter between a group of 300 CPI-Maoist cadres and around 30 SF personnel at Mungner village in the Dhanora tehsil of Gadchiroli District. The encounter took place when the SFs, led by their commander Munna Singh Thakur, were patrolling in the Dhanora area as a part of their regular operation. According to ADGP Pankaj Gupta,
The operation was successful as the C-60 officers had a good understanding of the inns and outs of the local terrain and the combat capabilities of their adversaries. Regrettably, the success of the C-60 commandos, in fact, underlines deficiencies in the operational capabilities of Police personnel in other operations.
Meanwhile, media reports in May 2009 said that the CPI-Maoist had raised a new formationin their Gadchiroli stronghold, the 'Indravati Company,' christened after the river that separates the States of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The revelation came to the fore recently, after surrendered Maoists revealed crucial details during interrogation. 'Indravati Company', formed by amalgamating two dalams (squads) with a combined strength of around 75 cadres, has been made functional to give an impetus to the movement in the southern part of Gadchiroli within the Maoists' ambitious Dandakaranya plan. The newly formed company has been placed under Gadchiroli-based senior Maoist cadre, Suresh.
Indicating a change in Maoist strategy, Superintendent of Police (SP), Gadchiroli, Rajesh Pradhan, disclosed, in May 2009, that, unlike earlier incidents, the extremists were now coming in large groups to carry out attacks. He revealed that there were around 235 permanent Left Wing armed cadre in North and South Gadchiroli.
Earlier, on February 14, the Maharashtra Police's Anti Naxal Operation (ANO) cell, while analyzing the pattern of recent killings of civilians in the State, noted a rising trend of civilians being killed by the Maoists. An unnamed ANO official stated, "We are intrigued as the Naxals took almost a year to react in Bhamragarh area of South Gadchiroli. It may be a concerted effort to distract the forces' attention, as an operation is currently on along the Gondia and Chhattisgarh borders These killings are being carried with an aim to create panic and send a message to the villagers to stay away from the Police."
Reports also indicate infiltration of Maoist cadres into Gadchiroli from neighbouring Chhattisgarh. Notwithstanding the fact, following the February 1, 2009, incident in which 15 Police personnel, including a Sub-Inspector, were killed by the Maoists, while a patrolling party visited the forest area of Markegaon in the Dhanora tehsil of the District, the State Home Minister Jayant Patil claimed, "There is strong possibility of Naxals moving out to neighbouring States..."
Nevertheless, a considerable quantum of local support and participation was reportedly being enjoyed by the Maoist cadres even before the February 1 plot was activated. Corroborating the fact, SP Rajesh Pradhan disclosed that around 200 villagers from Markegaon have gone missing since the attack and the subsequent Police action.
The often repeated demand for more central forces remains a major component of the "active measures" taken by the State Home Department (SHD). Directing the SHD to chalk out an action plan to tackle the Maoist menace in the State on an 'immediate basis', Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, in a meeting on April 9, asked the Union Minister for Home Affairs, P. Chidambaram, for 12 companies of the para-military forces exclusively for Gadchiroli and Gondiya Districts, to counter the Maoists. Although, the enormity of the problem appears to have been realized by the Chief Minister, the steps taken by his Government have been temporary in nature and their objective stopped at the conduct of peaceful parliamentary elections in the State. There seems to be little recognition of the gravity of the situation and the enduring character of the challenge.
Similarly, following the killing of 16 SF personnel by the CPI-Maoist on May 21 in Gadchiroli, State Home Minister Jayant Patil on May 22, announced that the State Government had decided to set up a dedicated force of 'two to three battalions' to tackle Maoist violence, but also sought eight to 10 battalions of central paramilitary forces (CPMFs) to be stationed in the Eastern Vidarbha region. Comparing the availability of SF personnel in the State with other Maoist affected States Patil said,
Patil, however, rejected any 'military solution' to the Naxal problem, declaring that "military action at this stage is not acceptable. It will be the last resort." Two days later on May 24, Patil called for a joint operation involving the neighbouring States and envisaged a structure that would bring together the Home Ministers of neighbouring CPI-Maoist affected States to counter the menace, and possibly including simultaneous combing operations. He also said that the Sate has placed orders for night-vision binoculars and some other equipment and, "We are waiting for delivery of arms."
On June 2, the Maharashtra Government revealed an INR one billion plan to strengthen the State Police department in the Maoist-affected Districts. Jayant Patil disclosed in the Legislative Assembly, "INR one billion allocation will be made in the Budget for restructuring the Police department by setting up anti-Naxalite centres from Nagpur to Gadchiroli and combing the Nagpur, Gondiya and Gadchiroli Police ranges under a DIG. In the next one week, approvals will be sought and work will begin." He also said the plan includes increasing armed outposts in the State's border areas from the existing five to 15, adding that, "We have realised that armed outposts in the border area need to be increased. There have been instances of Naxalites attacking and moving to the neighbouring State to evade identification." These armed posts will have 60 State Reserve Police Force personnel, unlike the regular 12-man posts. The borders will also be protected by construction of a periphery wall and will have watchtowers at regular intervals, he added. Earlier, on February 4, the Maharashtra Government approved a sum of INR 13.86 billion for a special action programme to develop infrastructure and other projects in the CPI-Maoist affected areas of six Districts Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Gondiya, Nanded, Yavatmal and Bhandara.
A January 18, 2009, report revealed, further, that around 87 Under Barrel Grenade Launchers were likely to be commissioned soon to be part of the State's SF arsenal for use in anti-Maoist operations. The weapon, which can operate best within the range of 50 meters to 400 meters, can be lethal within a six meters radius.
Unfortunately, the various proposed responses fall into a long tradition of State Government efforts to combat the Maoists, relying principally on combing operations following any large scale incident perpetrated by the rebels. In almost all cases, however, the Maoists successfully retreat from the incident site after executing their plans, and ensuing combing operations have largely been devoid of any spectacular achievement. While such combing operations may register occasional and marginal successes, they constitute no more than a temporary and insufficient measure to deal with the Maoist threat and to re-establish the confidence of people in affected areas.
Indicating more trouble to come, according to a January 13, 2009, report, at a meeting in the jungles of Gadchiroli District, the Maoists decided to strengthen their influence in Maharashtra by merging their Maharashtra operations with the larger and stronger Dandkaranya Committee, active in Chhattisgarh. As of now, left-wing extremism in Maharashtra is confined to just seven Districts Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondiya, Gadchiroli, Nanded, Nashik and Yavatmal and the Maoists pose a limited challenge to the State Police. By the merger of the Maharashtra operations with the Dandkaranya Committee which has successfully engaged counter-Naxal forces in south Chhattisgarh, including the Special Task Force, Central Reserve Police Force and the Commando Battalions for Resolute Action battalion the Maoist leadership hopes to carry over its operational successes in Dandkaranya to the adjoining Districts of Maharashtra. This would also further facilitate inter-State operations and movements by the Maoists.
As of now, the SHD is redrafting its strategy to deal with the possibility of stepped-up Maoist violence in Gadchiroli and Chandrapur Districts during "martyrs' week", July 28 to August 3, in the memory of Charu Majumdar, who spearheaded the Naxalite movement in the 1960s. Sources indicate that the Maoists have plans for "large-scale violence, particularly in Gadchiroli and Chandrapur Districts". Enforcement agencies claim to have identified likely targets and are taking steps, including the deployment of adequate paramilitary forces in sensitive areas, to ensure that the Naxalites do not succeed.
While the State Government has announced significant allocations and plans for the augmentation of SF capacities in its counter-Naxal strategy, it remains to be seen how efficient and effective implementation will be. Political attention to the problem, in the past, has tended to be fitful, and SF responses, at best, intermittent. Unless a sense of extreme urgency attends the state's responses to the rapidly intensifying challenge of the Maoists in Gadchiroli and contiguous Districts in Maharashtra, the Maoist consolidation in the State can be expected to continue.
Legitimizing Ethnic Militias?
A rag-tag ethnic militia which the security establishment claims comprises just under 200 rebels has managed to keep the Government, both in Assam and the Centre, on tenterhooks for some time now. The Dima Halam Daogah Jewel Garlossa faction (DHD-J), a group devoid of any ideology, has its area of operation in southern Assam's North Cachar (NC) Hills District, spread over 4,890 square kilometers of dense forests, and with a population of less than 200,000. Beginning March 2009, the DHD-J formed by Jewel Garlossa after the parent outfit, the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), entered into a ceasefire with the Central Government on January 1, 2003 stepped up its violence in the District, killing security personnel, attacking infrastructure and symbols of Government authority, particularly the railways, and creating a situation that has led to a violent feud between the majority Dimasas and the minority Zeme Nagas living in the District.
On July 10, 2009, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram stated that 63 persons had been killed in tribal feuding, 39 of whom belonged to the Naga community and while the rest were Dimasas (the situation has remained volatile after July 10 but there have been no fresh killings). More than 500 houses have been burnt, of which 228 belonged to Nagas and 300 to Dimasas. The Government of Assam has set up 32 relief camps and is providing gratuitous relief. At present 11,737 persons are staying in the relief camps, including 6,841 Nagas and 4,896 Dimasas. The immediate provocation was apparently the killing of four Zemi Naga tribals in Mahur Sub-division of the District between March 19 and 23, 2009. DHD-J cadres were suspected to have been involved in the killings. Some Nagas migrated to Tousem sub-division in Manipur's Tamenglong District. Again, between April 28 and May 9, 2009, seven persons belonging to the Dimasa community were killed and 97 houses burnt by Naga extremists suspected to be cadres of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) factions. What followed was a full-scale ethnic 'war' and an enduring trust deficit between the two communities.
The stepping up of violence by the DHD-J has brought the far-flung NC Hills District into focus at a time when the authorities were patting themselves on the back for keeping the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) insurgency under check. Attacks on the railways brought train services to the District to a halt, leading to food shortages in the adjoining States, Tripura and Mizoram. The Centre was forced to act as the situation deteriorated to such an extent that Home Minister Chidambaram had to call a special review meeting in New Delhi to discuss the situation in the NC Hills. Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai was rushed to the State for an on-the-spot assessment. By this time, 56 companies of the Assam Police and paramilitary (comprising some 5,000 men), and 22 Army columns (around 2,000 soldiers, including para-commandos) had been put on the trail of the elusive DHD-J militants. The Security Forces (SFs) suffered their maximum casualties in April 2009, when 11 personnel were killed by DHD-J cadres.
New Delhi has also sensitized the State Governments in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland to the likelihood of mobilization and movement of Naga militants across State borders, who could use this opportunity to make their presence felt in NC Hills District, cashing in on the widespread resentment among the Nagas in the wake the community being at the receiving end in the inter-tribal conflict.
After a review of the situation on June 1, 2009, the DHD-J was declared an 'unlawful association' under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. It was at this juncture that the Assam Police tasted success, as it launched 'Operation Treasure Hunt', a cross-country operation to apprehend DHD-J leaders. Its plan paid off and, on June 4, 2009, Assam Police officers managed to capture DHD-J chief Jewel Garlossa and two of his associates from Bangalore, the capital city of the south Indian State of Karnataka. Between June 19 and July 7, 2009, moreover, six cadres of the DHD-J were killed in operations by the SFs, and 24 cadres/linkmen were arrested. The SFs have also recovered arms and ammunition, besides INR 15.1 million from the group's linkmen. Among those arrested was Mohit Hojai, the Chief Executive Member of the NC Hills Autonomous District Council, the area's highest elected leader. He was held on charges of providing funds to the DHD-J to purchase weaponry.
It is perplexing that nearly 8,000 SF personnel in the District have failed to neutralize a rag-tag group of 200 DHD-J cadres. At present, counter-insurgency (CI) operations in the NC Hills appear to be suffering from a classic case of lack of coordination among the various SFs deployed in the region. The unified headquarters arrangement of the Army, Police and Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs) may actually not be in operation in the District, because the Army units in the area are under the Nagaland-based 3 Corps instead of the northern Assam-based 4 Corps, as is the case in other parts of the State. It is also appears that there may be a measure of competition between various Forces in the District to claim credit for whatever successes are achieved against the DHD-J. The result is not difficult to predict: a low success rate in neutralizing militants.
It is common knowledge that the rebels are familiar with the terrain in the District, unlike most of the visiting SF personnel. Besides, there are just two major roads in the District, leaving vast stretches inaccessible. The SFs obviously prefer to be located along these two roads and the railway line. The DHD-J also has several other advantages. One, of course, is the patronage the group receives from local politicians. The arrest of Mohit Hojai provides evidence of a nexus that goes deep. Another advantage is an easy source of contraband arms and ammunition. The security establishment in the State believes that weaponry for the DHD-J was being sourced from the international arms bazaar and routed through Bangladesh via the border that Mizoram shares with that country. A third possible advantage could be the support the DHD-J receives from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) anti-talks faction.
Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai, who paid a two-day visit to Assam starting July 30, 2009, to specifically assess the NC Hills situation, expressed concern about the politician-militant nexus and leakage of Governmental funds in the region, during a lengthy interview with this writer. "The politician-militant nexus is a matter of serious concern. Apart from the law enforcing agencies, civil society must also play a proactive role to prevent or break such a nexus," Pillai said. To deal with a situation like that in the NC Hills (where the chief executive of the Autonomous Council is himself accused of leaking development funds to a militant group, possibly in return for protection), the Centre, Pillai said, was trying to amend the Sixth Schedule to set up Village Councils, with direct funding to take governance further down to the grassroots, adding, "The system of the elite having access to huge funds must be changed. Those who lead Autonomous Councils in the region are the elites from among the community." Pillai also made a significant revelation a densely forested and sprawling District like NC Hills had just four Police Stations until the DHD-J stepped up violence. "Four more police stations are being set up," he disclosed.
Despite the arrest of its leader, Jewel Garlossa, the DHD-J appears to have retained its operational capacities on the ground. Garlossa had, in any event, been 'leading' the group in absentia from his safe haven in distant Bangalore. The second and third rung leaders of the group have clearly taken command, though they appear to be lying low at present. The group has also made a formal offer for truce, complete with a list of weapons and demands. The authorities are, however, aware that the DHD-J had betrayed their trust in the past and are, consequently, waiting and watching. A clear victory for the SFs is still to be won. What is absurd is the fact that the Government is even thinking of considering the truce offer made by the DHD-J, something that can only lend legitimacy to small bands of armed men who kill people, strike terror and then come out to talk peace. With the experience of so many 'peace processes' in the past contributing to so little peace in the region, it is, indeed, a pity that the authorities have not learned much.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 27-August 2, 2009
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clarifies Government's position on the India-Pakistan joint statement in Parliament: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clarified the Government's position on the India-Pakistan joint statement in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) on July 28, 2009. Dr. Singh asserted that the Government had not diluted its position on terrorism by issuing a joint statement with Pakistan earlier, on July 30, 2009, but left the door open for dialogue, provided Pakistan fulfilled its commitment in letter and spirit to root out anti-India terrorist activity from its soil. Intervening in a debate in the Lok Sabha on issues arising from his recent visits abroad, the Prime Minister emphasised the need for an engagement with Pakistan to achieve enduring peace in the subcontinent and slammed the "enemies of peace" for trying to make alienation between the two countries permanent and the divide unbridgeable. However, Manmohan Singh rejected the involvement of any third party in talks with Pakistan because it would have limited effectiveness. It could also lead to longer-term involvement of foreign powers in South Asia which is "not something to our liking", he said
Further, Manmohan Singh said India would follow a policy of "trust and verify" on commitments by Pakistan, and revealed that the impetus to the joint statement came from the dossier submitted by Islamabad a few days before he left for France and Egypt. The dossier showed that some progress had been made by Pakistan, but India did not think it was 'adequate' for resumption of a full-fledged dialogue. The joint statement also took a step forward by committing both countries to sharing real time, credible information to prevent any attack in future. At the same time, the Pakistani leadership was told to ensure that Mumbai-type attacks were not repeated, and that another such attack would put an "intolerable strain on our relationship." Dr. Singh said the current Pakistani leadership understood the need for action against terrorists of all hues and cautioned that Pakistan would be "consumed" if it did not resolutely counter terror. The dialogue would now be limited to the Foreign Secretary level, capped in the near term by a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Responding to criticism over the incorporation of Balochistan in the joint statement, Manmohan Singh said India was willing to discuss strife in the Pakistani province because it had clean hands and was willing to remove any misgivings. Far from being engaged in fomenting discontent in Pakistan, Indian consulates in Afghanistan were focusing on the large-scale reconstruction work being carried out in the country, he stated. "But we were willing to discuss all these issues because we are doing nothing wrong," Dr. Singh added. The Hindu, July 30, 2009.
Maoist attacks on economic targets increasing: The growing influence of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) over the last few years has reportedly led to an increase in the attacks on economic targets in the affected States across India. Public and private sector industries, particularly in sectors like power, mining, railways and communication, have borne the brunt of CPI-Maoist attacks, and increasingly so since 2006. According to data compiled by the Union Home Ministry, the Maoist strikes on economic targets have progressively increased from 71 in 2006 to 80 in 2007, 109 in 2008 and 56 in the first half of 2009. Among these, communication towers were the most targeted in 2009, having seen 26 attacks between January 1 and June 30. Railways came second with 15 extremist strikes so far in 2009 on its infrastructure and properties across Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. Economic targets (10) in the first six months of 2009 included the NMDC mines, Gramin Sadak Nirman Yojana road-works, Essar Pipelines in Chhattisgarh; Essar Pipelines in Orissa and Solar plates in Bihar. This is much higher than the total of five Maoist attacks against economic targets in the whole of 2008 and eight in 2007. Economic Times, July 28, 2009.
32 militants and seven civilians among 42 persons killed during the week in FATA: Taliban militants, reportedly affiliated with 'commander' Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan Agency, shot dead another militant, Maulvi Gulab, and his deputy in the crowded Miranshah Bazaar on July 31. Sources close to the Taliban militants told The News that Gulab was known for abducting people and then beheading them on charges of spying on the Taliban for the US forces stationed in Afghanistan. Witnesses said armed men came to the bazaar in a pickup truck and opened indiscriminate gunfire on Gulab and his associates. Gulab died on the spot, along with his deputy.
The Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) executed four men on July 30 after pronouncing them guilty of abduction and murder at a self-styled court, witnesses and a spokesman said. The executions by firing squad took place near Bara tehsil (revenue division) of Khyber Agency. The LI announced the impending execution by mosque loudspeakers in Bar Qambarkhel village, 10 kilometres northwest of Bara, late on July 29 and urged locals to witness the killings, a local tribesman told AFP. Separately, two Taliban militants and a trooper were killed in a clash between the Taliban and SFs in Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan Agency, on July 30.
Two persons, including a woman, were killed and six others sustained injuries when militants attacked a pickup truck on the Peshawar-Bajaur road in Mohmand Agency on July 29. The Mohmand Agency Assistant Political Agent Rasool Khan said one militant was also killed in the exchange of fire with Khasadar force. Separately, three militants were killed and four paramilitary soldiers injured during an exchange of fire in the Dosali area of North Waziristan Agency on July 29. According to sources, militants attacked the Gerdai Rogha post, about 40 kilometres south of Miranshah. Frontier Corps personnel returned fire and killed three of the attackers.
A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a checkpoint in North Waziristan on July 28, causing an explosion that killed two SF personnel and injured five others. The bomber aimed for a checkpoint some three kilometres north of Miranshah, local Government official Rehmatullah said. Two intelligence officials confirmed the casualty figures and said the wounded include three paramilitary soldiers. Ahmadullah Ahmadi, a spokesman for the North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. He said the suicide attack on the SFs was a reaction from the Taliban against the silence of the Government over the US drone strikes in North Waziristan Agency, in which, he claimed, innocent tribesmen, including women and children, had died. He threatened to continue attacks on the troops if the drone attacks were not stopped. In another incident, SFs opened fire at a speeding car passing through the Frontier Corps checkpoint in front of the Miranshah Headquarters Hospital, killing three persons. Sources said all the three men who died on the spot were said to be Punjabi Taliban militants.
According to AFP, military helicopters killed 20 militants and destroyed four militant hideouts, including a training centre for suicide bombers in Tirah Valley, 35 kilometres southwest of Landi Kotal in the Khyber Agency on July 27. "Military helicopters shelled militant hideouts in the afternoon, killing 20 rebels and destroying four of their hideouts," a spokesman for the Frontier Corps, Major Fazal-ur-Rehman, said, adding that the air strikes were ordered after an intelligence tip-off. In addition, sources said three helicopters shelled Daras Jumat, a mosque in Akakhel area, near Bara, killing a boy and injuring three others. A vehicle and two shops were also destroyed. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, July 28-August 3, 2009.
27 militants and four civilians among 34 persons killed during the week in NWFP: Security Forces (SFs) killed four Taliban militants and arrested 27 others from the Swat District on August 2, 2009. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), two militants were killed and seven others arrested during search-and-cordon operations in Derai and Danda. In addition, two more militants were killed and two others arrested in Gorai, Kotlai and Daragai. Further, militants shot dead two Policemen in Paharipura in the provincial capital, Peshawar, while a Police party escaped a booby trap when a bomb disposal squad defused explosives placed with the body of a slain prayer leader in Mashogagar in the early hours of August 2. Further, in the southern Mashogagar village, terrorists killed a prayer leader Qari Roohul Amin of Sulemankhel, who had been abducted on June 29.
SFs killed six Taliban militants in the on-going military operation in Swat District on July 31, a statement by the ISPR said. "Security forces conducted a search operation in Charbagh and Allahabad and killed six terrorists and also recovered a cache of arms and ammunition along with material for preparation of IEDs," it said. The SFs also conducted a search operation in Khog Bacha and arrested Ibn-e-Aqil, younger brother of Ibn-e-Amin, an important Taliban commander.
On July 30, unidentified terrorists stormed the house of a tehsil (revenue division) official in Swat District and killed his brother. "Terrorists raided the house of tehsil nazim Muhammad Ali at Choga near Aloch, killing his brother and injuring his nephew and a neighbour," the ISPR said.
Four terrorists were killed and 23 were arrested in 24 hours during search and clearance operations by the SFs in Swat and Malakand, the ISPR said on July 29. The SFs killed four terrorists and arrested three suspects during search operations at Amankot, Ahingro Derai, Minar Qambar and Landikas near Mingora. According to the ISPR, the SFs conducted search operations at Tal near Shah Dheri, resulting in the arrest of two terrorists and the demolition of 10 hideouts. Meanwhile, an anti-Taliban elder and cousin of a Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) was killed and his son was injured when suspected militants stormed their house in Shangla District on July 29. The militants attacked the house of Haji Khalil, cousin of MPA Fazlullah and relative of the PML-Q NWFP chapter President Amir Muqam, who had supported the military operation against the militants. Haji Khalil died on the spot while his son Adil and two other were injured.
SFs killed two Taliban militants in Swat and arrested at least 26 suspected militants in various areas of the Swat, Darra Adam Khel and Lakki Districts on July 28. The ISPR said those arrested in Swat included local Taliban 'commander' Liaqat, who was taken into custody during a search operation in the Karorai Kandao area.
11 militants were killed in a clearance operation by the SFs and local militia in the Swat and Dir Upper Districts, while 25 others were arrested on July 27. An ISPR media update said nine terrorists also surrendered in different parts of the Malakand Division. It said the local militia (Lashkar) killed 10 terrorists and arrested six others in the Karodara, Shakoh and Chopra Kandao areas of Dir Upper District. Seven terrorists belonging to the Safi group also surrendered before the civil administration. Further, suspected Taliban militants bombed a CD shop in Mansehra, killing one person and injuring two bystanders on July 27. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, July 28-August 3, 2009.
10 persons killed in communal riots in Punjab province: Paramilitary troops were on August 2, 2009, deployed in the Azafi Abadi village, also known as Koriaan, in the Punjab province, where 10 people were killed in violence between Muslims and Christians over the alleged desecration of the Koran. Pakistan Rangers personnel took up positions in and around Azafi Abadi, a day after it witnessed communal clashes. Persons from the two communities reportedly exchanged fire and over 80 homes of Christians were set ablaze by mobs. However, despite deployment of the Pakistan Rangers, the situation in the area remained tense throughout the day as some Christians refused to bury their dead until Police registered a complaint against those responsible for the killings and arson. "We have arrested a number of suspects and exemplary punishment will be given to those involved in heinous crimes. This is a crime against humanity," Rana Sanaullah, Law Minister of Punjab, told reporters. He said some outlawed religious groups were involved in the violence but did not name them.
A Police source told PTI that activists of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP) were involved in the violence. "Their armed activists from other parts of Punjab gathered in Koriaan village," the source said. Violence erupted in the village, part of Gojra sub-division of Toba Tek Singh District and located 160 km from Lahore, when a group of Muslims alleged three Christians burnt pages of the Koran during a wedding last week. At least seven Christians, including four women and two children, were burnt alive. Three others were killed in Police firing on August 1. The Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and provincial minister Sanaullah, however, said no Christian was involved in desecrating the Koran. The Hindu, August 3, 2009.
Lashkar-e-Toiba behind Mumbai attacks, says British parliamentary report: Holding the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) responsible for the November 26, 2008, Mumbai attacks, a British parliamentary committee on August 2, 2009, said several major terrorist attacks across the world, including those in London, Madrid, and Bali, had their origins in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
A report by the Foreign Affairs Committee quoted a former CIA chief as saying the Pakistan-based LeT had reached a "merge point" with the Al Qaeda. "It was from the tribal areas in Pakistan that the bomb plots in London, Madrid, Bali, Islamabad, and later Germany and Denmark were planned," said the report on 'Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan,' headed by lawmaker Mike Gapes. The report said the LeT, which was responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that targeted Westerners, in particular U.S. and U.K, nationals, also operates from these tribal areas. It added that a section within the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) still feels that "India, rather than the Islamic terrorists," was the main threat to it. "We welcome the increasing recognition at senior levels within the Pakistani military of the need for a recalibrated approach to militancy, but we remain concerned that this may not necessarily be replicated elsewhere within the Army and the ISI," the report said. It welcomed Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's remark that terrorism, not India, was the real threat to his country. However, the report raised doubts over "whether the underlying fundamentals of Pakistani security policy have changed sufficiently to realise the goals of long-term security and stability in Afghanistan." The Hindu, August 3, 2009.