Afghanistan – On May 1, it was reported by the press and media that three British Soldiers and several others were injured in a huge roadside bomb while traveling in a huge Mastiff personnel carrier. The vehicle is specifically designed to withstand roadside explosions but the blast lifted the 15 tonne vehicle. Also, on May 4, five United States soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb. Very little has been published regarding both of these attacks. Although the Taliban recently announced its spring offensive, it is not normal for the NATO forces to lose so many of its soldiers at such a time. With what appears to be a news blackout regarding the size of the blast and crater, along with how much explosives were used to kill both the US and UK servicemen, it leaves you to wonder if the Taliban have found a new type of weapon. The area that would be needed to place the explosives would have to be large enough to accommodate huge amounts of explosive material. The area would have to have some sort of cover so that the Taliban could video its destructive effort for many things, especially for its own propaganda machine. The operation would have been well planned and the security of the passing convoys well noted in both areas of operation. It is still rather early to surmise if the weapon that killed both sets of servicemen is new, but with both incidents occurring back to back, the NATO force commanders must be wondering if there is a new weapon that can kill many of its soldiers in one go. It may be that the Taliban now sees an end to the American forces in its country and are loathed to confront them and lose more of its fighters, therefore opting to use bigger IED’s than they have in the past.
India – During the early part of the reporting procedure, the press announced that China had invaded India with a small group of soldiers. The soldiers along with helicopter support set up camp in the barren Depsang Vally in the Ladakh region. Although China denies the act, the soldiers make no move to return across the Actual Line that divides the border between the two countries. The Indian government want a peaceful solution to the incursion, as an escalation of the situation with force could lead to a border conflict that neither India nor China wants. But to leave the Chinese soldiers in a country that does not belong to them is causing an international incident. Although China is India’s largest trading country, it is still refusing to take a hard line with China. Members of the Indian government are strongly suggesting a strong hard line against China. Whereas some theorists believe that China is testing the response of the Indians, others believe that there is a split in the Chinese government with this action, possibly averting the domestic in-fighting within the Chinese government.
Myanmar/Burma – In the 361 Security Terrorism and Security report dated March 31, unrest between the Buddhists and the Muslims in the country was discussed. The Buddhists were targeting Muslim businesses and shops and Mosques were being burnt. Recently, an actual anti-Muslim campaign has surfaced with slogans bearing the numbers “969” which are seen in a number of places quite openly. The numbers 969 refer originally to Buddha’s “three Jewels” but have been hijacked by hard line, nationalist, anti-Muslim Buddhists to denote the campaign against Muslims. The movement is fast growing in the country and the Burmese are making speeches calling for the boycott of Muslim-owned stores. Muslims in Burma make up approximately 4% of the population, which is comparatively small, so they cannot be seen as a threat to those who follow Buddhism. But with growing tension between the two factions and the upsurge in the 969 movement, the stability and security of the country must be closely observed.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst