Afghanistan – On June18, it was announced that Afghanistan Security Forces will take over the role of securing its country with NATO stepping into the background. The event took place quietly so as not to attract attacks from the Taliban, Hekmatyar or Haqqani who attempt to prove that the Security Forces are not in control. Although they did not totally get away with a suicide attack on employees of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, it was believed that the attack had been planned to kill the prominent politician and Hazara leader, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, who managed to escape with light injuries. A high profile attack, of which there was a number recently, did not happen, ensuring that the media concentrated on the handover ceremony for such an important role. This is the first time that the Afghans have been in control of their country since the Taliban were dislodged in 2001. It is hopeful that mistakes made during the withdrawal of Iraq will not be made in Afghanistan. Since the Americans and coalition forces left, violence in the country had escalated and is threatening the country with civil war due to sectarian hostility.
Taliban success of infiltrating the capital city of Kabul continued on June 25 with an attack on the presidential palace. The president was in residence at the time and the location is reported to be one of the most secure locations in the country. Although the attackers were killed, this incident shows again how bold the Taliban are becoming after the other attacks in Kabul. The attack may have been in response to President Karzai wanting the peace talks to be held in Afghanistan rather than Doha, or it may be that the Taliban are increasing their strength to negotiate.
Pakistan – On May 15 in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province in western Pakistan, an attack on a bus carrying female students at a university resulted in casualties. The victims were taken to a Quetta hospital where terrorists were in position to carryout a further attack inside the hospital. A spokesman for the terrorist group Laskar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) admitted to carrying out the attack in reprisal for an earlier raid by the security forces against the terrorists which allegedly resulted in a female and child being killed. This was a well planned and coordinated attack by the terrorists which resulted in approximately twenty four people being killed. LeJ is a Sunni Muslim terrorist group which has confirmed links to al-Qaeda and the Pakistan Taliban. The group is well known for conducting attacks on Shiites and was banned by Pakistan in 2001 and later by the United States in 2003. Laskar-e-Jhangvi is a Nationalist/Separatist movement whose aims are to transform Pakistan into a Sunni Muslim state through violent means. In the past the terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the murder of four American oil workers in 1997 in Karachi, for the assassination of the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 and in January 2002 the kidnap and murder of the journalist Daniel Pearl. As well as those terrorist groups mentioned the LeJ has ties to other terrorist organisations operating in the region.
In another incident on June 23, it was reported that ten people, including nine foreign tourists, were killed. The incident happened at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest mountain in Gilgit-Baltistan, and is thought to be the first attack on tourists in the region. A spokesman for the terrorist group Tehrik-e-Taliban claimed the attack in retaliation for the drone attack that killed their second in command, Waliur Rehmen; the group also claimed that they would continue to attack foreigners. It is believed that the terrorists were well-trained and the attack well-planned as the location is at altitude. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is an umbrella organization of various anti-Pakistan militant groups. The organization's strategic goals are purely based on enmity toward the Pakistani government and military. TTP can largely be held responsible for violence and security related issues in Pakistan. The group has been extensively involved in suicide attacks on military, police and innocent Pakistanis, as well as heavily-armed attacks on Pakistan's security forces, murdering of opponents without discrimination (like the attack on the young girl, Malala Yousafzai), kidnapping for ransom, killing of high-value targets, and promoting sectarian violence.
Philippines – The New Peoples Army (NPA) ambushed and killed several police trainees on June 28. The NPA frequently attacks unarmed members of the forces. The terrorist organization has a Marxist/Leninist ideology whose aim is to overthrow the Filipino government and replace it with a communist/socialist state. The group has two main tactics; the first is to target foreign investment and the other is to assassinate politicians, security officials and journalists who criticise the NPA. The organisation has been in existence for over thirty years and although it went through a period of peace negotiations in the 1990’s, nothing became of the talks and the NPA continue their struggle.
Thailand – A roadside bomb killed eight soldiers on June 29 in the district of Yala, one of the three main areas of the country that are having problems with rebels. Although a terrorist act, it is unsure who was responsible for the incident. However, in the 361 Terrorist and Security report dated March 15, it was reported that the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Patani (BRN) had signed a peace deal with the Thai government and it was unclear whether the agreement would stick. This attack is thought to be in reprisal for the Thai government not agreeing to the BRN’s request for a ceasefire to be put in place on the first day of Ramadan (July 10).
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst