Afghanistan/Kunduz/Taliban – Afghan forces regained control of most of the northern city of Kunduz on the 4 Oct 16 amid sporadic fighting, officials said, as questions arose over how Taliban militants once again managed to penetrate the city’s defences. The US military in Kabul said that a “robust” group of special forces, as well as aircraft, were positioned near the city to provide support to Afghan soldiers should the need arise. Insurgents slipped past government forces and occupied or attacked central areas of Kunduz, almost exactly a year after they briefly captured the city in one of their biggest successes of the 15-year war. Social media accounts linked to the Taliban, which taunted Afghan forces and their Western backers throughout the attack, said fighters were still inside Kunduz the following day with “clashes ongoing” and government troops “on the run”. The attack in Kunduz, along with Taliban gains in areas of Helmand and Uruzgan where they also threaten provincial capitals, has underlined the group’s growing strength and exposed weaknesses in Afghanistan’s defences. Government representatives are meeting international donors in Brussels this week to try to secure billions of dollars in additional aid. Questions dogged Afghan security forces on the 4 Oct with the US military reporting it saw little evidence of significant fighting as the Taliban moved in. Some witnesses said many police had abandoned checkpoints without firing a shot, a month after a similar scene played out during a Taliban raid on the provincial capital of Uruzgan province, Tarin Kot. “The police did not fight yesterday,” said Commander Ali, a local militia chief who, like many Afghans, only goes by one name. “Some fought in a few places, but a majority of them escaped without any resistance.” He estimated that about 200 Taliban attackers quickly sent thousands of security personnel, mostly police, fleeing to the army base near the city’s airport. That account was supported by another local police commander, who said senior leadership had failed to back up those police officers who did fight, while the army arrived after the fact.
Afghanistan – A suicide car bombing has killed 14 people, including 10 Afghan police officers, as the Taliban announced it had launched a large-scale attack on the capital of southern Helmand province on the 10 Oct 16. The armed group has expanded its footprint across most of the province in recent months and has been at the gates of Lashkar Gah city, the provincial capital, for weeks. According to police official Haji Marjan, the vehicle explosion happened at about 1130 hrs after the Taliban earlier targeted police checkpoints across the city. Marjan said at least 10 police officers, including his brother, and four civilians died in the attack in the Mukhtar area of Lashkar Gah. The Interior Ministry spokesman, confirmed the Taliban launched a large-scale attack on security checkpoints in Lashkar Gah on the 10 Oct 16. But he expressed confidence that the Afghan security forces "will soon push them back". Abdul Majeed Akhonzada, deputy director of Helmand's provincial council, said the fighters entered the city after breaching the Afghan forces' "defence security belt". Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the fighters were advancing through Lashkar Gah. Helmand is strategically important for the Taliban as it is the main source of the country's opium output, worth an estimated $4bn a year, much of which funds the war. Provincial officials have said the Taliban now control 85 percent of the province, while only a year ago the government controlled 80 percent. 361 COMMENT: The Taliban will want to take as much ground as possible in the coming month. Once winter sets in the dislodgement of the group will become very difficult which will give the Taliban plenty of time to consolidate any locations taken and before their normal spring offensive. This the second attempt at a major location this reporting period so the group is obviously feeling confident. COMMENT ENDS
Afghanistan – Shia pilgrims were targeted in the Afghan capital Kabul on the 11 Oct 16 with at least 14 people killed as they gathered to mark Ashoura, one of the most important days on the Shia-Muslim calendar. One attacker was killed after attempting to enter the shrine with a vest loaded with explosives, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. A senior police officer said the suicide attacker - dressed in a police uniform - entered the Karte Sakhi shrine near Kabul University in the west of the city. A witness said the assailant shot dead a policeman guarding the entrance with a pistol before taking his AK-47 assault rifle and "firing randomly at worshippers". The interior ministry had previously said two attackers had been killed and at least one more assailant remained on the loose. At least 14 people were killed, including one policeman, and more than 30 were injured. Security forces in the area were already on high alert. They had warned the Shia community earlier to avoid gathering in public places because they apparently had intelligence that an attack might happen. No group had yet claimed responsibility for the assault. The attack, which began just before 2000 hrs local occurred as potentially hundreds of Shia Muslims gathered to observe the Ashoura holy day, which commemorates the 7th-century death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. In Afghanistan, Shia Muslims make up an estimated 15 percent of the population of about 30 million and most are ethnic Hazaras.
Afghanistan – At least 14 Afghan civilians have been killed in a bomb blast outside a mosque in northern Balkh province, a day after a deadly gun attack on Shia worshippers at a shrine in the capital, Kabul. Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor in Balkh, said on the 12 Oct 16 the attack targeted a group of Shia Muslims following ceremonies commemorating Ashoura, a major religious holiday. He said 36 people were also injured in the explosion in the provincial capital, Mazar-i-Sharif. "The death toll could rise because a number of the injured are in critical condition," said Farhad, adding the bomb appeared to have been detonated by remote control. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the 12 Oct 16 blast. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for a similar attack on the Shia community in Kabul on the 11 Oct 16. At least 18 people were killed, according to a United Nations tally, by a gunman who entered the Karte Shakhi shrine and opened fire on a crowd of worshippers gathered for Ashoura. ISIL said in a statement on the 12 Oct 16 that the attacker detonated a suicide vest after firing all his ammunition, but security forces said they shot the man dead. A video showed the suspected attacker's body intact, with no sign of an explosive vest. One survivor, Saleha, said from her hospital bed that she was sheltering her infant daughter when the gunman came upon them. "He ran out of bullets and while he was changing his gun's magazine I begged him, saying my six-month old is innocent, please don't kill us. He shook his head saying 'OK, OK' and went out." Later the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Australia/Da’esh – Police in Australia have alleged that two teenagers arrested on the 12 Oct 16 were about to commit an attack inspired by the so-called Islamic State (IS). The 16-year-old boys were arrested by a counter-terrorism team in a laneway behind a Muslim prayer hall. They were allegedly carrying two bayonet-style knives purchased that day and notes pledging allegiance to Da’esh. At a news conference, police said the boys had been charged with terror-related offences. The Australian Broadcasting Corp is reporting that one of the boys is the son of a convicted terrorist. Police declined to comment on that report. The pair did not appear in Parramatta Children's Court and did not apply for bail which was formally refused. "We will be alleging this attack was inspired by Islamic State," New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn told journalists."We don't have any specific information of a particular target where we will allege that there was going to be an imminent attack." The arrests were part of an on-going counter-terrorism operation, local media said. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in September the threat of a terror attack in the nation was "real" after an IS call to followers to target prominent Australian locations.
Kashmir/India – At least six fighters attacked an Indian army camp in north Kashmir on the night of the 2 Oct 16 killing one border guard and injuring another, two weeks after a similar attack killed 19 Indian soldiers and ratcheted up tensions between India and Pakistan. The attack on the camp of India’s 46 Rashtriya Rifles in Baramulla, which also houses a unit of the Border Security Force, started at around 2230 hrs local (1700 hrs GMT) and repeated exchanges of fire ensued. The militants in the latest attack, who appear to have reached the camp by boat on a river that passes through the town, had escaped under the cover of darkness. India called its 4 Para special forces unit in to Baramulla and an operation continued into the morning to search and secure the army camp. Baramulla is a district capital that lies on the road from Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s northernmost state, to the frontier settlement of Uri, where the Sept. 18 attack on the army base took place.
Kashmir/India – Indian soldiers shot dead three suspected militants who tried to raid an army base in northern Kashmir on the 6 Oct 16 police said, the latest in a wave of attacks that has raised tension with neighbouring Pakistan. In a sign of how fraught relations have become, Pakistan’s military chief lashed out against India on the 6 Oct and warned that Pakistan would react strongly against any aggression. The three suspected militants were found in an orchard near the army base in Kupwara district near the Line of Control, the de facto border that divides Muslim-majority Kashmir between India and Pakistan, which both claim the Himalayan region. Police superintendent Ghulam Jeelani said the attackers engaged in heavy firing with soldiers before they retreated from the base, the second to be attacked in days in northern Kashmir. The attack came as India and Pakistan exchanged more gunfire across the frontier in Kashmir, despite a 2003 ceasefire, setting off panic among residents in border areas. Tension has escalated since last week, when India announced its special forces had carried out a strike against militants camped on the Pakistan side of Kashmir and inflicted significant casualties. Pakistan denied such a strike had taken place and accuses India of fabricating the raids to give Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a domestic political boost. “Any aggression, born out of deliberate intent or even a strategic miscalculation, will not be allowed to go unpunished and will be met with the most befitting response,” said General Raheel Sharif, the head of Pakistan’s military. “While Pakistan wants good relations with all its neighbours, no one should make any mistakes about our collective resolve to defend our motherland,” he said. The latest round of tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours began in Jul 16 when violent protests against the Indian military erupted in Indian-ruled Kashmir after Indian forces killed a separatist guerrilla leader. India accuses Pakistan of backing the militants and of infiltrating them into Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies that saying it only offers moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their campaign for self-determination. Tension increased sharply when militants killed 19 Indian soldiers in a raid on an army camp on the 18 Sep 16 the heaviest toll in nearly two decades. India said the attackers had come from Pakistan but it demanded credible proof. On the night of the 5 Oct 16 militants from Pakistan unsuccessfully tried to breach the Line of Control at two points in the Nowgam sector and one at Rampur, an Indian army spokesman said. Another army officer said: “Troops were on alert and fired at the infiltrators, they fled back to Pakistan. A search was launched.” The two sides traded artillery fire across the Line of Control in Nowshera, Pallanwala and Mendhar sections overnight, the Indian army said. Pakistan said India initiated the shelling, which has often increases along the Line of Control during periods of tension.
Kashmir – A gun battle which lasted almost three days in Indian Kashmir ended on the 12 Oct 16 with the killing of two militants holed up inside a government building, as the region reels from deadly unrest. The militants took up positions on the morning of the 10 Oct 16 inside a 60-room institute in the region’s main city of Srinagar, the second time this year rebels have used the compound as cover to attack soldiers. The building was empty at the time. Soldiers pounded the government-run Entrepreneurship Development Institute with rocket grenades, flamethrowers and other weaponry before gaining access to it. Major-General Ashok Narula said soldiers then searched the six-storey building room-by-room for the militants in a slow-moving operation that left one soldier injured. “Two people have been eliminated and two weapons have also been recovered,” Narula told reporters at the scene after the operation was declared over. In February five soldiers, three militants and a civilian were killed during a gunbattle that also raged for three days in another building on the same compound. Rebels took refuge in the building after ambushing a paramilitary convoy. Rebel attacks on government forces have also increased in recent weeks.
Myanmar – Myanmar's border guards buried nine officers killed in the western state of Rakhine following three deadly attacks on posts along the north western frontier with Bangladesh. Most people in the area are Muslim Rohingya, a stateless minority whom Buddhist nationalists vilify as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh - even though many have lived in Myanmar for generations. Officers carried wooden coffins draped with national flags through rain and thick mud on the 11 Oct 16 before laying them to rest in a cemetery in the town of Maungdaw. Troops have poured into the town and surrounding area after the attacks on the 9 Oct 16 by what authorities have described as mobs armed with knives and homemade weapons. At least four people were killed in clashes with soldiers who hunted for the attackers, police said. Locals put the toll at seven and said they were unarmed residents. On the 11 Oct 16 residents reported sporadic gunfire in some villages north of Maungdaw. One local teacher said she had been hiding in a house along with about 20 other school staff and students, too scared to come out because of the sound of gunfire. Two Muslim men captured during Sunday's attacks have reportedly confessed, Rakhine state police Major Sein Lwin said. Lwin declined to name the leader, but said he had ties to an unnamed armed group operating across the Bangladesh border, which Myanmar has closed, and where Bangladesh has stepped up patrols. Some officials have pointed the finger at the Rohingya, including a long-silent armed group called the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, while others have blamed Bangladeshis and drug-traffickers. Some activists said the military may be using the border attacks as a pretext to target the long-persecuted Rohingya. "There's historical precedent for the authorities using lethal force against Rohingya in the area and we're concerned a crackdown is unfolding," said Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights.
The Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) is a militant Rohingya organisation founded in the early 1980s, during the aftermath of Operation King Dragon, an intense military operation conducted by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces). In the early 1980s, more radical elements broke away from the Rohingya Patriotic Front, and formed the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO). It was led by Muhammad Yunus, the former Secretary General of RPF. It soon became the main and most militant faction among the Rohingyas on the Burma-Bangladesh border. RSO based itself on religious ground; and as a result, it obtained various support from the groups of the Muslim world. These included JeI in Bangladesh and Pakistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami (HeI) in Afghanistan, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the Angkatan Belia Islam sa-Malaysia (ABIM), and the Islamic Youth Organisation of Malaysia. In the early 1990s, the military camps of the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) were located in the Cox's Bazaar district in southern Bangladesh. RSO possessed a significant arsenal of light machine-guns, AK-47 assault rifles, RPG-2 rocket launchers, claymore mines and explosives, according to a field report conducted by correspondent Bertil Lintner in 1991. The Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) was mostly armed with British manufactured 9mm Sterling L2A3 sub-machine guns, M-16 assault rifles and point-303 rifles. It has been alleged that Taliban instructors from Afghanistan were seen in some RSO camps along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, while nearly 100 RSO insurgents reported to be undergoing training with the terrorist organisation Hizb-e-Islami Mujahideen. One of the several dozen videotapes obtained by CNN from Al-Qaeda's archives in Afghanistan in August 2002 showed that "Muslim brothers from Burma" (Myanmar) received training in Afghanistan. Some video tapes were allegedly shot in RSO camps in Bangladesh in the 1990s. According to intelligence sources in Asia, Rohingya recruits in the RSO were paid a 30,000 Bangladeshi taka ($525 USD) enlistment reward, and a salary of 10,000 taka ($175) per month. Families of fighters who were killed in action were offered 100,000 taka ($1,750) in compensation, a promise which lured many young Rohingya men, who were mostly very poor, to travel to Pakistan, where they would train and then perform suicide attacks in Afghanistan. The expansion of the RSO in the late 1980s and early 1990s resulted in the government of Myanmar launching a massive counter-offensive to expel RSO insurgents along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. In December 1991, Tatmadaw soldiers crossed the border and accidentally attacked a Bangladeshi military outpost, an incident which developed into a major strain in Bangladesh-Myanmar relations. By April 1992, more than 250,000 Rohingya civilians had been forced out of northern Rakhine State as a result of the increased military operations in the area. In April 1994, around 120 members of the RSO entered Maungdaw Township in Myanmar by crossing the Naf River which marks the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. On 28 April 1994, nine out of twelve timed bombs planted in different areas in Maungdaw by RSO insurgents exploded, damaging a fire engine and a few buildings, and seriously wounding four civilians. On 28 October 1998, the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF), led by Nurul Islam, merged together and founded the Rohingya National Council (RNC). The Rohingya National Army (RNA) was established as its armed wing, with the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) organising Rohingya insurgents of different factions into a single army.
Turkey – An explosion near an Istanbul police station on the 6 Oct 16 was caused by a "motorcycle bomb blast" and injured five people, one of them seriously, provincial governor Vasip Sahin wrote on Twitter. Reports say the cause of the blast near the police station in Yenibosna district was not immediately known. Television pictures showed several cars wrecked and shards of glass scattering the ground after the blast. Witnesses told CNN-Turk that they heard a powerful explosion as well as gunshots. Turkish police sealed off the area on suspicion of a possible second blast.
Turkey/Terrorist Own Goal/Kurdistan Workers Party – Two suicide car bombers blew themselves up on the outskirts of the Turkish capital Ankara after police called on them to surrender, according to a Turkish official and local media on the 8 Oct 16. Governor Erkan Topaca said the two bombers - a man and a woman - died on in the incident outside a horse farm. No one else was injured in the blast. Topaca said the assailants are thought to be linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has carried out a series of suicide car bombings. "The materials used, the construction and the way it was planned point to the PKK a little," he said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. The governor said that the suspects were sought by police after a tip from Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish province in Turkey's southeast. In televised comments, Topaca added that the suspects were a male whom they had identified and a female whose identity they had yet to ascertain.
Turkey/Kurdistan Workers Party – A car bomb attack on a military station has killed at least nine soldiers in the Hakkari province of southeast Turkey, according to state media on the 9 Oct 16. The attack, which ripped through a checkpoint in the Semdinli district, also resulted in at least 20 injuries security sources said. Anadolu, Turkey's state-run news agency, attributed the attack to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). PKK fighters are active in the mountainous area near the border with Iraq and Iran in Hakkari. Authorities were on high alert for possible attacks on Sunday in particular, which marked 18 years to the day since PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan fled Syria before being captured by Turkish special forces in February the following year.
Turkey/Da’esh – Turkey-backed Syrian rebels began an attack on the ISIS-held village of Dabiq in northwestern Syria on the 15 Oct 16 a rebel commander involved in the campaign and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Dabiq is symbolically important to the extremist group because it is the site of an apocalyptic Islamic prophesy, and ISIS has stationed around 1,200 of its fighters there said the Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor.