Afghanistan – Veteran warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has returned to the Afghan capital, eight months after signing a peace deal with the government it was reported on the 4 May 17. Mr Hekmatyar, an Islamist warlord accused of numerous atrocities, leads Hezb-e-Islami, the country's second largest militant group. Under the deal, he has agreed to accept the constitution and abandon violence. Some see the deal as a step forward for Afghanistan but others say it could exacerbate divisions in the government. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar travelled to the capital from Jalalabad amid tight security, his convoy guarded by an Afghan army helicopter. President Ashraf Ghani led an event to welcome him at the presidential palace and thanked him for "heeding the peace call". At the start Mr Hekmatyar stood for the national anthem, and the BBC Afghan service head says this is an achievement in itself because many religious leaders of similar views to the warlord think no-one should stand for music. On the 5 May 17 he led prayers at a prestigious mosque. A former prime minister, he is one of the most controversial figures in Afghanistan's modern history. Mr Hekmatyar's return comes more than 20 years after the Taliban forced him from Kabul in 1996. He was one of seven anti-Soviet faction chiefs who led a large number of mujahedeen fighters in the war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s. But he is remembered mostly for his role in the bloody civil war of the 1990s, when the Hezb-e-Islami clashed violently with other mujahedeen factions in the struggle for control of Kabul. The Hezb-e-Islami was blamed for much of the terrible death and destruction of that period, which led many ordinary Afghans to welcome the emergence of the Taliban. The civil war also led to Mr Hekmatyar's fall from grace - he and his men were forced to flee Kabul when the Taliban swept into power. In 2003, the US state department listed him as a terrorist, accusing him of taking part in and supporting attacks by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But Hezb-e-Islami has not played much of a role in the conflict in recent years, and in Sep 16 the Afghan government signed a deal granting Mr Hekmatyar immunity and the release of prisoners in return for peace. Hezb-e-Islami has supporters across the country and there are hopes that the peace agreement may encourage some Taliban leaders to consider joining the process. But others are wary. One paper has accused him of "speaking in a bullying tone" and calling for a more centralised government that would entrench the "dominance of one ethnic group". Mr Hekmatyar is Pashtun, as is Mr Ghani. But ethnic Tajiks, who back Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah - Mr Ghani's former presidential rival and now partner in the national unity government, and the mainly Shia Hazaras - could see the warlord's return as a worrying sign. In Kabul, one man said that Mr Hekmatyar's return was "a moment of pride for the country" and he hoped it would bring peace. But another said the move would not help. "If the government really wants to bring peace to Afghanistan, they should make a peace deal with the Taliban and Da’esh, because Hekmatyar doesn't have enough supporters and his reputation among people is low."
Afghanistan/Taliban – Taliban insurgents overran a district police headquarters in north-eastern Afghanistan after two days of intense fighting that left scores of casualties on both sides, Kunduz provincial officials said on the 6 May 17. Mafuz Akbari, spokesman for the regional police commander, said the Taliban were able to take control of the Qala-e Zal in Kunduz but security forces were pursuing the militants. It was unclear how many were killed and wounded. “Reinforcements have been dispatched and the enemy is under attack from both ground and air by the Afghan security forces, soon our forces will regain the areas that are lost,” he said. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid released a statement confirming the group’s fighters were in control of the district. Rabani Rabani, a member of the provincial council, said the Taliban launched attacks from several directions on Afghan security checkpoints. “Finally, early on Saturday the Taliban were able to capture the whole district and right now they are in control of Qala-I Zal,” he said. Akbari said there were scores of casualties among both the Taliban and the Afghan security forces, but as the battle was ongoing he couldn’t provide a total dead and wounded. He said dozens of local residents were displaced from their homes to neighbouring districts. Taliban have launched attacks on Kunduz city in the past and at least twice briefly captured Kunduz’s capital and reached the central roundabout and hoisted their flag around in the city. In separate fighting in southern Helmand province, four Afghan police officers were shot to death at a checkpoint, said Gen. Aqa Noor Kentoz, provincial police chief. He said all four were killed the night before at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. “The four might have been attacked by an insider, but that will be clear after an investigation, which is underway,” he said. No one immediately claimed responsibility, but Taliban have increased their attacks against Afghan security forces across the country.
Afghanistan/Da’esh – The head of Islamic State in Afghanistan believed to be the mastermind behind several high-profile attacks including an assault on a military hospital that claimed at least 50 lives has been killed, US and Afghan officials reported on the 8 May 17. Abdul Hasib, whose group is affiliated with Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, was killed last month in a targeted raid by Special Forces in the eastern province of Nangarhar, the presidential palace in Kabul said in a statement. "He had ordered the attack on 400 bed hospital in Kabul that resulted in the death and injuries of a number of our countrymen, women," it said. "The Afghan government is committed to continuing its operations against Da’esh and other terrorist groups until they are annihilated," it added. NATO commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson confirmed the killing of Hasib and warned that "any Da’esh member that comes to Afghanistan will meet the same fate." First emerging in 2015, IS's local affiliate in Afghanistan overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistan border, but their part in the Afghan conflict had been largely overshadowed by the operations against the Taliban. The group has claimed responsibility for a series of bloody attacks, including an audacious assault on Afghanistan's largest military hospital in Mar 17, when gunmen dressed as doctors stormed the heavily guarded facility and threw grenades into crowded wards. According to the US Forces-Afghanistan, the local IS presence peaked at between 2,500 to 3,000 but defections and recent battlefield losses have reduced their number to a maximum of 800. In Apr 17 the US dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on the jihadist group's hideouts in eastern Afghanistan, triggering global shockwaves. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, dubbed the "Mother of All Bombs", killed at least 95 jihadists, according to the Afghan defence ministry. After a steady downsizing of US troop numbers since 2011, US military commanders say they need to strengthen the numbers on the ground to better support Afghan forces and help retake territory lost to the Taliban, which is considered a bigger threat than IS. The Pentagon will ask the White House next week to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan to break a deadlocked fight with the Taliban, a senior official said on the 4 May 17. The Pentagon will ask for 3,000 to 5,000 more soldiers, mainly to advise and train Afghan military and police, according to US media. US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies, who also serve in an advisory capacity. Those numbers are a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago, and the Afghan military has struggled to fill the void amid an unrelenting Taliban insurgency.
Chinese Uyghur’s/Syria – Up to 5,000 ethnic Uyghur’s from China’s violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang are fighting in various militant groups in Syria, the Syrian ambassador to China said on the 8 May 17, adding that Beijing should be extremely concerned about it. China is worried that Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militants there, having travelled illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey. ISIS claimed responsibility for the killing of a Chinese hostage in 2015, highlighting China’s concern about Uighurs it says are fighting in the Middle East. Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years, most in unrest between Uighurs and ethnic majority Han Chinese. The government blames the unrest on Islamist militants who want a separate state called East Turkestan. Syria’s ambassador in Beijing, Imad Moustapha, told Reuters on the sidelines of a business forum that while some of the Uighurs were fighting with Islamic State, most were fighting “under their own banner” to promote their separatist cause. “Our estimated numbers, because of the numbers we fight against, we kill, we capture, we wound, would be around 4-5,000 Xinjiang jihadists,” he said. “China as well as every other country should be extremely concerned.” Beijing has never given a number for how many Uighurs it believes are fighting in the Middle East, but has repeatedly warned they pose a serious threat to China. It is not possible to independently verify the number of Uighurs in Syria. Rights groups and Uighur exiles say many Uighurs have fled to Turkey simply to escape Chinese repression at home, accusations Beijing denies. Moustapha said China did not pick favourites with rebel groups, like Western countries, and China and Syria were cooperating to fight the threat. “They don’t have a mixed message,” he said, referring to China. “They understand the true nature of the ultra-Islamic jihadi doctrine of these groups. Yes, we do exchange information and a little bit more than information regarding these terrorist groups,” he said, without elaborating. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television in Mar 17, praised “crucial cooperation” between Syria and Chinese intelligence against Uighur militants. He said ties with China were “on the rise”. Syria is trying to woo back Chinese investment, with a group of about 30 Syrian businessman meeting about 100 Chinese representatives over two days in Beijing. Moustapha said he would be attending next week’s summit on China’s new Silk Road plan, which aims to expand links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment. Aboud Sarrouf, chairman of the Sarrouf Group and member of the Syria-China Business Council, said they were hoping to get Chinese investment to help repair war-damaged infrastructure. “They are preparing and waiting for the right time. They are a little bit reluctant and hesitating,” he told Reuters, referring to Chinese companies. “But we’re coming here to start preparing the foundation.” Syria may have difficulty encouraging back Chinese companies. Paul Liu, chief executive of Chinese steel products firm Sino Sources, said he wanted to hear about opportunities in Syria but was concerned about security. “If the government thinks things are not dependable, then we’ll first plan and then execute later,” Liu said.
Pakistan/Iran – The head of the Iranian armed forces warned Islamabad on the 8 May 17 that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the government does not confront militants who carry out cross-border attacks. Ten Iranian border guards were killed by militants last month. Iran said Jaish al Adl, a militant group, had shot the guards with long-range guns, fired from inside Pakistan. The border area has long been plagued by unrest from both drug smuggling gangs and separatist militants. “We cannot accept the continuation of this situation,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the head of the Iranian armed forces was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA. “We expect the Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases.” “If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are,” he said. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Pakistan last week and asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to improve the border security. Pakistan assured Iran it would deploy additional troops along its border. In 2014 Iran warned it would send troops to Pakistan to retrieve five Iranian border guards kidnapped by Jaish al Adl. Pakistan said at the time that such action would be violation of the international law and warned Iranian forces not to cross the border. Iran refrained from sending the troops when a local cleric stepped in and resolved the situation. Four of the guards were released a few months later, but one was killed by the militants. Jaish al Adl is a militant group that has carried out several attacks against Iranian security forces. The group claimed responsibility for attacks that killed eight border guards in April 2015 and 14 border guards in October 2013.
Jaish al Adl
Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) is an extremist Salafi group that has since its foundation claimed responsibility for a series of operations against Iran’s domestic security forces and Revolutionary Guards operating in Sistan and Balochistan province, including the detonation of mines against Revolutionary Guards vehicles and convoys, kidnapping of Iranian border guards and attacks against military bases located in the province. The group claims that dozens of Revolutionary Guard members were killed in these operations, most of which were not reported in official Iranian media. Jaish al-Adl is also opposed to the Iranian Government's active support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's capmaign against Islamic State, which they regard as an attack on Sunni muslims.Centre Of OperationsJaish ul-Adl executes cross border operations between the border of Iran and Pakistan and is based in the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, which is home to about 2 million Sunni-Muslims.
Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), also known as Army of Justice is an active group formed c. 2012.
Pakistan – A bomb exploded next to a convoy of the deputy chairman of the Pakistan Senate on the 12 May 17 in the violence-plagued province of Baluchistan, killing at least 25 people, officials said. At least 35 people were wounded in the blast near the town of Mastung, 50 km (30 miles) from the provincial capital of Quetta. Television footage showed a vehicle mangled by the blast. Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy chairman of the upper house of parliament, said minutes after the explosion he believed he was the target and he had sustained minor injuries. “There are many casualties as there were many people in the convoy,” he said by telephone. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack from the many militant groups operating in Baluchistan. Haideri is a member of Jamiat e Ulema Islam, a right-wing Sunni Islamist political party that is part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's coalition government. District health official Sher Ahmed Satakzai said the death toll had risen to 25 and 10 were in critical condition in hospital. Security in Pakistan has improved since a crackdown on militancy began in 2014, but a fresh wave of attacks that left more than 100 people dead in Feb 17 has increased pressure on Sharif's government. Mastung police official Ghazanfar Ali Shah said the convoy appeared to have been hit by a suicide bomber. The senator, who is being treated in hospital, was on his way back to Quetta after distributing graduation certificates to students who had graduated from a madrassa, or religious academy.
Thailand – At least 40 people were wounded after two bombs detonated outside a shop in the Pattani province of Thailand's violence-plagued south, police said on the 9 May 17. The first explosive was packed inside a motorcycle parked in the car park, spreading panic among shoppers. "The second blast was a huge car bomb, which occurred five minutes later and injured at least 40 people, while one is in a serious condition," said Captain Preecha Prachumchai of Pattani Police. Police were on the scene and appeared to be encouraging people to move back when the second blast struck. The car bomb could be seen in a video clip that went viral on social media, although the car in question was not visible. Pattani Police suspect hardline rebels of carrying out the attack, but no culprit has yet been identified. "The bomber was believed to have fled the scene before the explosion. Investigations are under way," said Rewat Srichantub, Pattani's Deputy Police Chief. Thailand is mostly Buddhist, but parts of the south are majority Muslim. The region has been plagued by a long-running separatist insurgency as ethnic Malay rebels battle Thai troops for more autonomy from the Buddhist-majority rule. Attacks in Thailand's deep south have intensified over the past few months. Six army rangers were killed in an attack last month. According to Deep South Watch, an independent monitoring group, daily shootings and bomb attacks have claimed more than 6,500 lives since 2004, with both sides accused of rights abuses. The biggest faction spearheading the insurgency is the Barsian Revolsui Nasional (BRN). The government recently rejected a conditional offer for peace talks from BRN, which demanded international observers or mediation and protections for the Malay-Muslim culture. 361 COMMENT: This appears to have been a well planned attack. The first explosion was small but was used to cause chaos and panic which would lead the confused populace into a much larger device or main/secondary device. Reading the above account it states that the perpetrator ran off indicating that the explosions were remote controlled. The person responsible would have made sure that he had the maximum people in the killing area prior to detonation. It does not state who was responsible but an attack or this kind a group will claim it soon. COMMENT ENDS