A Western official said Lashkar Gah, which was the base of British aid and reconstruction efforts for eight years, was now “under serious military pressure”. Babaji, which was cleared of insurgents with heavy British losses at the height of the Afghan campaign has already fallen to the Taliban, local officials said. The area saw the notoriously bloody Panther’s Claw British offensive over the summer of 2009 and later became one of the main areas for Britain’s aid efforts. Nearby Nad-e Ali, another district once garrisoned by British forces has also seen heavy fighting. As many as 400 fighters are advancing on Chah-e Anjir only around 10 miles from Lashkar Gah.
The fighting also threatens to close the country’s main ring road, which passes through Helmand, officials warned. One local government official said: “Babaji area has fallen in the hands of the Taliban and heavy fighting is ongoing in Chah-e Anjir area. Farhad Dawary, local head of Civil Societies Union, said: “For three days, heavy fighting had been ongoing in Nad-e Ali district and the Babaji area. “Babaji area has fallen to the Taliban, with heavy fighting ongoing in Nad-e Ali and the front line is now Chah-e Anjir. “There is fear among the people in Lashkar Gah, with lots of rumours that city might fall. Some of the families are moving out of the city, and at the same time families from Nad-e Ali are coming to the city.”
A Western official said; “Helmand's capital appears to be under serious military pressure. We're hearing reports about civilians fleeing in large numbers." Reinforcements were being drafted into the area, the Afghan ministry of interior said. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman, said he was confident Afghan security forces could protect Lashkar Gah from being overrun. “We are in no way concerned right now,” he said. The fall of Kunduz at the end of last month came as a profound shock in Afghanistan, piling pressure on the government of President Ashraf Ghani and raising questions over the capacity of security forces to maintain stability.
Bangladesh/United States – In an updated security message on the 18 Oct 15, the United States has warned its citizens that Westerners may be attacked in Bangladesh. Amid concerns following the killing of an Italian aid worker and a Japanese citizen, the U.S. embassy in Dhaka on Saturday (17 Oct 15) said the terrorist threat remains “real and credible” in the country. “Security agencies in Bangladesh have taken extraordinary measures to increase security for foreigners, but the terrorist threat remains real and credible.” The new alarm came on a day when the country’s apex body of garment owners’, the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said there had been an ‘over reaction’ to the killing of the two foreigners. The message said: “As advised in previous security messages for U.S. citizens, reliable information suggests that a terrorist attack could occur against Westerners in Bangladesh, including attacks against large gatherings at international hotels.”
The Islamic State has reportedly claimed responsibility for the 28 Sep 15 and 3 Oct 15 murders. But the government agencies said they have not found any link of the IS with those murders. In the updated alert, the embassy strongly encouraged U.S. citizens travelling to or residing in Bangladesh “to take precautions, remain vigilant about their personal security, and be alert to local security developments.” They are also not permitted to be in most public places and travel on foot, motorcycle, bicycle, rickshaw or other uncovered means on all public thoroughfares and sidewalks. They are also restricted from attending large gatherings, including events at international hotels, unless they have obtained permission from the embassy’s security office. The police on Sunday claimed that the mastermind behind the killing of Italian Cesare Tavella had been identified. “Now, we are collecting evidence against them,” said Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia.
Pakistan/Quetta – A bomb explosion took place on a bus that was filled with people it was reported on the 20 Oct 15. The bomb was placed up on the roof where people and luggage, as well as other cargo were placed. Balochistan has been under attack by factions and sectarian fighting as well as terrorist attacks for a while. However, lately the area had been calm. This attack signals that a wave of terrorist attacks may be starting in the area, as the month of mourning for the Shia in the region begins. The advancements of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan may be influencing the terrorists in Pakistan to begin to destabilize the region as a concerted effort. As of now, there has been no claim for the attack. It is likely that the perpetrators will make an official announcement soon.
Russia – Vladimir Putin has proposed setting up a NATO-style joint task force of post-Soviet states to secure the borders of Central Asia amid fears of Taliban “spill over” from Afghanistan it was reported on the 16 Oct 15. A fresh sign of the Russian president’s new military assertiveness, the deployment raises the possibility of Russian and allied troops being deployed along Tajikistan’s 800-mile border with Afghanistan and Moscow tightening its influence of governments in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It comes a day after Barack Obama said American troops would stay in Afghanistan for at least two more years – itself a tacit admission that the Afghan government is unable to tackle the threat of a resurgent Taliban alone. "The situation there [in Afghanistan] is genuinely close to critical," Mr Putin told a summit of former Soviet states in Burabay, Kazakhstan. “Terrorists of different stripes are gaining more influence and do not hide their plans for further expansion. One of their aims is the break into the Central Asian region.”
While details of the joint task force have not been released, Russia’s relatively modern and powerful military necessarily form the core of any force put together. Russian troops were responsible for guarding Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan until 2005, when they pulled out following the expiry of the treaty that had kept them there. Mr Putin’s comments follower earlier announcements that Russia would beef up its military presence in Tajikistan, an impoverished former Soviet state that borders Afghanistan. The Kremlin is said to have become particularly concerned after the Taliban assault on the city of Kunduz, not far from the border with Uzbekistan in northern Afghanistan, last month. Taliban fighters occupied Kunduz for three days before being expelled by Afghan forces backed by American airstrikes, one of which destroyed a hospital operated by Doctor’s Without Borders. Russia and other former Soviet states have become increasingly alarmed at the prospect of spill over from Afghanistan after the American withdrawal. Mr Putin said on the 16 Oct 15 there are believed to be “5000 to 7000” citizens of former Soviet states fighting with the ISIL terror group in Syria and Iraq. A number of recent incidents have highlighted the threat of radical Islam in the former Soviet space.
A Taliban-linked group last month released a propaganda video showing an ethnic Uzbek man from Kyrgyzstan carrying out a suicide truck bombing in Syria. Babur Israilov, 21, was filmed weeping as he climbed into an explosives-packed armoured personnel carrier during an Al-Nusra assault near Aleppo in Sep 15r. Relatives have said Mr Israilov was radicalised while working as a migrant labourer in Russia. Meanwhile, police in Kyrgyzstan said they had killed one of four Islamists who escaped from a prison in Bishkek, the country’s capital, on the 12 Oct 15. The escapees killed three prison guards during the breakout. Police said Daniyar Kadyraliev, a convicted terrorist and a reported member of the banned Jaishul-Mahdi Islamist extremist group, was shot dead in a suburb of Bishkek on the 16 Oct 15 when he resisted arrest. Barack Obama on the 15 Oct 15 dropped long-held plans to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan before the end of his presidency in 2017.
The current American force of 9,800 troops will remain in place in Afghanistan until the end of 2016, before dropping down to 5,500, Mr Obama said. The Taliban responded to Mr Obama’s announcement by threatening more attacks on American personnel and installations. "Maintaining American troops in Afghanistan can in no way slow down the rapid process of our Jihad and struggle," the Islamist militant group said in a statement, they said on the 16 Oct 15. While Mr Putin’s and Mr Obama’s recent comments reflect a shared recognition of the threat posed by the Taliban and other radical groups in central Asia, experts said cooperation on the issue is likely to be stymied by mistrust and clashing geopolitical interests. “The West simply doesn’t trust Mr Putin. Just as in Syria he has said he is fighting against ISIL, but in reality is fighting to preserve Bashar Assad’s regime, in central Asia they will suspect him of using the threat of Islamism as an excuse to create a zone that will be eventually be recognised as a Russian sphere of influence,” said Arkady Dubnov, a Moscow based expert in Central Asian affairs.
The move may face some push back from regional rulers, like Emomali Rahmon, the president of Tajikistan, and Islam Karimov, the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan, for similar reasons. Abdugani Mamadazimov, a Tajik political analyst, said the government in Dushanbe would be likely to resist the idea of Russian and allied troops one again assuming responsibility for the country’s borders. "For Russia to have a base in the country is one thing. But the border is a matter of national sovereignty for the Tajik government." Mr Dubnov, who said Mr Rahmon had helped fuel the threat from radicalisation with short-sighted domestic policies, said Central Asian governments would have little choice but to accept Russian assistance and the consequent increased dependence on Moscow. “They need Russian help to address this challenge; but that doesn’t mean they actually want it,” he said.
Turkey – Turkish police detained around 30 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) suspects in a dawn raid on the 27 Oct 15 a day after a deadly shootout with a group of them. Police launched simultaneous operations against ISIS cell houses in the conservative central Anatolian city of Konya, the Dogan news agency reported, adding that the operation was ongoing at the time of collating the report. On the 26 Oct 15 two policemen and seven ISIS suspects were killed in a gun battle in the Kurdish majority city of Diyarbakir in the southeast of the country. Turkey, gearing up for elections on Sunday (1 Nov 15) has launched a hunt for ISIS extremists after blaming the group for a massive twin bomb attack in the capital Ankara this month that killed 102 people. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday vowed to press ahead with operations against all "terrorists" including ISIS and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Long criticized by its Western allies for not doing enough to stem the rise of the extremist group, Turkey launched air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria after a deadly bombing on a border town in July. But most of the firepower was concentrated on PKK fighters based in northern Iraq, rupturing a 2013 truce between Ankara and the rebels.