Afghanistan – Taliban fighters have fired explosives at Afghanistan's parliament compound in Kabul as the country's top intelligence official and caretaker minister of interior were due to speak, politicians and the Taliban said. Members of Parliament said no one was wounded on the 28 Mar 16 attack in the capital. "Three rockets were fired at the parliament but they did not hit the main building," said Safiullah Muslim, a politician from Badakhshan province. "It happened when the session was ongoing." Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said it caused heavy casualties. There were also conflicting reports as to whether the explosions were caused by long-range rocket artillery or shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades.
Malaysia – Malaysian police have detained 15 more suspected members of Islamic State, who police say planned to launch attacks and tried to obtain chemicals to make bombs. National Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement late on the 24 Mar 16 the suspects were aged between 22 and 49 and included four women, a police official, an airplane technician, a mosque cleric and a student. Khalid said they were detained over three days from the 22 Mar 16 in Kuala Lumpur and six other states. He said they had allegedly received orders to launch attacks in the country from a Malaysian man who had joined Isis in Syria. The arrests followed the 22 Mar 16 bombings by Islamist militants in Brussels that killed at least 31 people and injured 300 others. The group also arranged for two foreign terror suspects to sneak out of Malaysia into a south-east Asian country, he said, without giving details. They were also involved in raising and channelling funds to a militant group in the southern Philippines, and in recruiting new members, Khalid said. The four women were planning to go to Syria to join Isis, he said. Malaysia has raised its security alert level following bombings in Jakarta on 14 Jan 16 in neighbouring Indonesia. On 15 Jan 16 police said they had detained a man who was hours away from carrying out a suicide attack in Kuala Lumpur. More than 160 people suspected of having ties to ISIS have been detained in Malaysia in the past two years, including some accused of plotting attacks in Kuala Lumpur.
Pakistan – At least 72 people have been killed and hundreds wounded after a bomb ripped through a children’s play area in Pakistan where Christian families were celebrating Easter. The suspected suicide bombing took place on the evening of 27 Mar 16 at a public park in the city of Lahore, just yards away from a set of swings. Medical workers said the blast mainly killed women and children, while many of the wounded were in a critical condition. The splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it had deliberately targeted Christians on Easter Sunday. “We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” a spokesperson for the terrorist group said. Rescue spokeswoman Deeba Shahbaz said the toll had risen to 72 on Monday, with 29 children among the dead. Haider Ashraf, a senior police official, confirmed the number killed, adding the majority of the dead were Muslims. “It was part of our annual martyrdom attacks we have started this year,” he said and warned that more attacks would follow. “We had been waiting for this occasion... we want to convey... to the prime minister that we have arrived in Punjab and we will reach you." Mr Ashraf said ball bearings were found on the ground after the attack, which he believed was a suicide bombing, and that an investigation was continuing.
Pakistan – Pakistan's army rounded up 50 suspected members of the Taliban splinter group that carried out the deadly Easter Sunday suicide attack in Lahore in overnight raids early on the 28 Mar 16. The arrests in three cities across eastern Pakistan’s Punjab region came as the death toll from the attack on a park in the provincial capital climbed to 72, including at least 29 children and 14 Christians. “The operation started at midnight of the 28 Mar 16, and a number of suspects were arrested from the different cities of Punjab,” a Punjab minister said. “Fifty suspects were arrested after the blast. Pakistan Army is leading the operation and no factor of any terrorist group will be spared”. Five operations have been carried out in the cities of Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan with more expected. Military spokesman Asim Bajwa confirmed on Twitter that a “number of suspect terrorists and facilitators” had been arrested and a “huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered”. A spokesman for the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan confirmed to AFP by telephone on Monday that the group’s attack had specifically targeted Christians. "We carried out the Lahore attack as Christians are our target," said Ehansullah Ehsan. He said the group would carry out more such attacks, vowing to target schools and colleges alongside government and military interests. 361 COMMENT: With the speed that the authorities carried out the arrests makes you wonder why they had not arrested these individuals before. They must have known their locations so why wait for a terrorist incident before arresting them. This terrorist attack may have been averted had they done so earlier. The intelligence must have been in place for the authorities to react so fast. Another question that must be asked is how many other terrorists are hiding in the cities of Pakistan? COMMENT ENDS
Turkey – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on the 14 Mar 16 it was necessary to broaden the definition of terrorists to include supporters of terrorism, who are equally guilty. Speaking after another bombing in the Turkish capital which killed 37 people, Erdogan said: "It's not only the person who pulls the trigger, but those who made that possible who should also be defined as terrorists, regardless of their title," adding this could be a journalist, an MP or a civil society actor.
Turkey/PKK – A breakaway faction of Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has claimed responsibility for the suicide car bomb attack that killed 37 people in Ankara on the 14 Mar 16. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) said on the 17 Mar 16 the attack was a response to security operations carried out by Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of the country. "On the evening of March 13, a suicide attack was carried out ... in the streets of the capital of the fascist Turkish republic. We claim this attack," TAK said in a statement on their website, warning that it would stage more attacks. Witnesses said the blast on the 14 Mar set vehicles on fire and heavily damaged several buses. The explosion occurred a few hundred metres from the justice and interior ministries, a top courthouse and the former office of the prime minister. Authorities detained 11 people over the bombing, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, while Turkey's air force hit several Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq hours after the blast. The attack came three weeks after a similar car bombing in Ankara killed 29 people, also claimed by TAK. TAK says it has split from the PKK, but some experts say they are closely linked.
Further Information: Turkey on the 15 mar 16 identified the attacker who carried out a deadly suicide bombing in Ankara as a 24-year-old woman who allegedly became a Kurdish rebel in 2013 and had trained in Syria. An interior ministry statement identified the suicide car bomber blamed for killing 37 people, including herself, on Sunday as Seher Cagla Demir. A possible male accomplice, who was also killed, has not yet been identified.
Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the 18 Mar 16 warned Europe that it, too, could fall victim to attacks by Kurdish militants following a terror attack in Ankara that killed 37 people. Speaking at ceremony to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli in the coastal town of Canakkale, Erdogan said, “there is no reason why the bomb that exploded in Ankara cannot explode in Brussels, in any other European city.” “The snakes you are sleeping with can bite you any time,” he added. Meanwhile, in the mainly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir in south-eastern Turkey, police found a bomb in a car parked near a regional government office and school, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. A bomb team successfully defused 150 kilograms of explosives. Turkey has been wracked by conflict in mainly Kurdish areas of the southeast and suffered a string of attacks, including two on its capital that were claimed by an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Brussels and Washington, like Ankara, list the PKK as a terrorist organization. But the West supports Syrian Kurdish groups that Turkey considers as affiliates of the PKK and a threat to its national security.
Turkey – An explosion believed to have been caused by a suicide bomber hit the popular Istiklal Street in central Istanbul's Taksim square area on the 19 Mar 16. Government officials said five people were killed and 36 were injured - seven seriously - in the explosion. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that at least two Israeli nationals were killed in the blast. Two American nationals had also been killed while Iran said that one of its citizens had also died. "The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today's terrorist attack in Istanbul, Turkey," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. The suspected suicide bomber is also believed to have died. Twenty four foreign citizens were among the injured including 11 Israelis. There was no immediate claim of responsibility at the time. The following day the suicide bomber who killed four people in Istanbul's main shopping street belonged to so-called Islamic State (IS), the interior minister said on the 20 Mar 16. Efken Ala named the man as Mehmet Ozturk. He said that five people had been questioned so far. Mr Ala announced a review of security measures and curfews in seven Turkish provinces. Three Israelis - two with Israeli-US nationality - and an Iranian died in the attack. Another 36 were injured. Eleven Israelis were among the injured. Two Irish citizens, one national each from Germany, Iceland, Dubai and Iran were also injured. The coffins of the Israeli nationals were flown out on the 20 Mar 16. The Israeli government advised its citizens to avoid Turkey. "We have determined that Mehmet Ozturk, born in 1992 in Gaziantep, carried out the heinous attack on the 19 Mar 16 in Istanbul," Mr Ala told a news conference in the capital Ankara. "It has been established that he is a member of Da’esh," he said using the name for IS.
Turkey/Da’esh – Three suspected ISIS members arrested in Turkey were planning attacks on Germany’s diplomatic missions or schools in the country, which were closed last week over a terror threat, Turkish media reported on the 23 Mar 16. The three men – a Turk, an Iraqi and a Syrian – were arrested in Istanbul on the 22 Mar 16 by police acting on information from both Turkey’s and Germany’s intelligence services, Hurriyet newspaper and the broadcaster CNN-Turk reported. The suspects, presented as members of an ISIS cell, are accused of plotting attacks on German interests in Turkey, the reports said. Last Thursday (17 Mar 16), Germany closed its embassy in Ankara, its consulate in Istanbul and German schools in both cities, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier citing “very serious” indications of planned attacks. Turkish authorities had criticised the closures, saying they were unjustified. Two days later, a Turkish alleged ISIS member blew himself up on a busy shopping street in Istanbul, killing three Israelis and an Iranian and injuring dozens. Tuesday’s arrests in Istanbul come as police continue to hunt three Turkish suspected members of an IS cell believed to be planning further attacks in crowded public places. A further 10 suspected ISIS members were captured on the 22 Mar 16 on Turkey’s border with Syria, one of whom was wearing an explosives vest, officials said. Two of those held in southern Gaziantep province were injured in an exchange of gunfire with Turkish troops. Three others managed to flee the scene, the local governor’s office said. ISIS has been blamed for four of six bombings that have rocked Turkey in the past eight months, including a massacre at a peace rally in the capital Ankara in October that claimed 103 lives and a bombing outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul in January that killed 12 German tourists. A radical offshoot of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed the other two attacks.
Turkey/PKK – Three military police were killed and 22 injured in a car bombing on a barracks in Turkey’s restive southeast suspected to be the work of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), security sources said on the 25 Mar 16. Thursday evening’s attack (24 mar 16) took place in Mermer in Diyarbakir province, one of the areas in the mainly Kurdish southeast where security forces have engaged an offensive against the PKK since the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in Jul 15. The attackers first detonated a van crammed with explosives outside the barracks and then opened fire on the police with automatic weapons, the sources said.
Turkey/Israel/Da’esh – Britain’s Sky News quoted intelligence sources on the 29 Mar 16 as saying that ISIS had “advanced plans” to kill Jewish children in Turkey by attacking kindergartens, schools and youth centres. Sky Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Kiley said the information on the “imminent” threat came from six operatives arrested over the past week in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep. It was not clear which country’s intelligence service had provided the information to the British news network. Reuters could not verify the report and Turkish officials were not immediately reachable for comment. “In light of these circumstances, extraordinary security measures are being taken above and beyond the high alert level already in place by the Turkish police, as well as vigilance within the Jewish community,” Sky quoted an intelligence source as saying on its website. “Undercover and other covert counter-terror measures are being implemented around the clock. This is a more than credible threat. This is an active plot,” the source was quoted as saying. In an upgraded travel advisory on the 29 Mar, Israel urged its citizens visiting Turkey to leave “as soon as possible”, predicting possible follow-up attacks. Sky said the most likely target of an attack was a synagogue in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district which has a community centre and a school attached to it.
Turkey/PKK – Six police officers were killed and at least 23 people wounded on the 31 Mar 16 in a bomb attack targeting a Turkish police vehicle in the Kurdish-majority south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, a security source said. The attack took place a day before Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose government has waged a relentless campaign against Kurdish rebels since last summer, was to make a rare visit to the city. A source said a remotely-operated car bomb went off as a police vehicle drove past the city’s main bus terminal. Of the 23 injured, nine were civilians and the rest police. Turkish forces have been engaged in an ongoing operation against rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the region that has resulted in ferocious clashes and heavy casualties on both sides.