The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack which targeted the heavily walled compound in a bid to cause further terror in the city. The official said there did not appear to be any casualties inside the compound and there were no immediate details on whether anyone had been killed. A spokesman for the Taliban, which has often issued exaggerated casualty figures, said dozens of foreigners had been killed or wounded. On the 1 Jan 16 a suicide bomber attacked a French restaurant popular with foreigners and well-off Afghans. Earlier on the 4 Jan 16 a suicide bomber blew himself up near a police checkpoint without causing any other casualties.
Afghanistan/Taliban/Da’esh – Fierce clashes have reportedly erupted between Taliban and Islamic State (IS) fighters in eastern Afghanistan, leaving dozens of people dead on both sides. Afghan police reported on the 5 Jan 16 the fighting in the remote Batikot and Chaparhar districts of Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, began after hundreds of Taliban insurgents mounted a big attack on IS bases earlier this week. The Taliban offensive is said to have captured the two districts but attempts to dislodge the rival group from the nearby Nazyan district, which is considered the IS stronghold in Afghanistan, could not succeed. Separately, the provincial governor's office told media that security forces ambushed and killed at least 15 IS fighters near the conflict zone late on the 4 Jan 16.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to VOA that clashes have taken place and claimed Taliban fighters ousted IS militants from the two districts. Mujahid did not give further details. The Taliban apparently considers IS a threat to its ongoing violence campaign against the NATO-backed Afghan government. The Islamist insurgency initiated attacks against IS militants from southern Zabul and western Farah provinces in Nov 15 and succeeded in dislodging them from the area, a development acknowledged by local Afghan officials.
IS has recently established bases in parts of Nangarhar before attempting to extend influence to other parts of the war-ravaged country. Afghan authorities insist most of the IS fighters are Pakistani nationals hailing from areas such as Orakzai, Khyber and Bajaur, three of the seven semiautonomous tribal districts of Pakistan lining the border with Afghanistan. IS has recently launched its propaganda FM radio station from an unknown location in Nangarhar to encourage Afghan youth to join the group.
Afghan authorities recently claimed to have jammed the broadcast but residents and local media say the transmission is continuing uninterrupted, encouraging the public to join the IS fight against the Kabul government, its NATO allies and the Taliban. Meanwhile, local media in Pakistan has also quoted officials as confirming the Taliban assault on IS militants in the Afghan border areas, saying the hostilities killed more than 150 militants, mostly Islamic State supporters and commanders. Pakistan has been conducting counterterrorism army operations on its side of the volatile border and officials have acknowledged some insurgents have fled to Afghanistan.
Pakistani authorities have also stepped up a crackdown on suspected IS hideouts in major cities, rounding up dozens of militants linked to the Middle Eastern terror group. Rana Sanaullah, law minister of the country's populous Punjab province, revealed on the 4 Jan 16 as many as 100 suspected extremists have left Pakistan for Syria to take part in the conflict there. The revelation contradicted repeated claims by the federal authorities that IS has "no organized presence in Pakistan."
Afghanistan – A secret NATO report on the 11 Jan 16 brought to light by the German press reveals grave concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan, and how the Afghan army has exhibited lacklustre performance despite billions of dollars of international investment. Despite billions of dollars of investment the Afghan army is not ready for battle against the Taliban, who have surged in the past year, according to a secret NATO report seen by German magazine Der Spiegel. 'Altogether across the country, only one of 101 infantry battalions is classified as 'ready for battle' and 38 units have 'massive problems,'' the NATO report detailed, according to Spiegel. 'Ten battalions of around 600 soldiers are not operational at all,' wrote Spiegel.
'Particularly drastic is a report from the commander of the NATO mission, US General John Campbell, about the situation in the embattled South, where the Taliban have brought ever greater areas under their control.' General Campbell, who has led NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan since August 2014, said that of 17 battalions stationed in the provinces of Kabul and Kandahar, only 12 were battle-ready to a limited extent. Kabul, in central Afghanistan, and Kandahar in the South are Afghanistan's two largest cities, and the resurgent Taliban has carried out attacks there in recent weeks. It has claimed responsibility for a three suicide attacks in the Afghan capital last week that killed five civilians and injured at least 56. On December 9, scores of people were killed when the Taliban attacked Kandahar airport. Contributing to the lack of readiness for battle, the NATO report also reveals the extent of the loss of troops, through their death or desertion from duty.
'Statistically, in 2015 the Afghan National Army (ANA) lost 22 soldiers every day. With more than 8,000 deaths in one year, the losses have risen by 42 percent in comparison with the previous year.' 'Together with the high number of deserters who leave in frustration or defect to the Taliban, the army loses one third of its soldiers every year.' Following the end of the ISAF mission, which was succeeded by NATO's smaller noncombat Resolute Support mission, the Taliban has retaken large areas of Afghanistan. It is currently in control of more territory than at any point since 2001, when the US-led invasion toppled the ruling group from power. 361 COMMENT: After the Islamic State invasion of Iraq an enquiry into the state of the Iraqi Army took place and found that a very large number of units were not battle ready. This appears to be a similar scenario only without the IS, instead there are the Taliban.
Unless drastic steps are taken then the resurgence of the Taliban will occur and the will be stronger having learnt lessons from the past. Unlike the Afghanistan government who are not only learning from history but what has occurred in other recent conflict areas. Frustration will be a huge factor for those countries who took part in relieving Afghanistan from the Taliban clutches after 9/11. But in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan the job was not complete but through public opinion and politics both countries were allowed to stand up for themselves, but, without the ability of a strong shoulder to lean on. COMMENT ENDS
Afghanistan – A deadly gun battle between Afghan security forces and rebel fighters near Pakistan's consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad has ended it was reported on the 13 Jan 16. Afghan forces flushed out gunmen barricaded in a guest house near the consulate building in the border city, hours after a suicide bomber targeted a police patrol nearby. At least 10 people were killed, including the three attackers and 11 others were injured in the attack. No group had yet claimed responsibility the attack. The attack comes two days after Islamabad hosted a meeting of representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States to restart a peace process with the Taliban. In recent years diplomatic missions have witnessed an increase in attacks by the Taliban. In 2008, a car bomb at the Indian embassy in Kabul killed 60 people and the embassy was again hit by a suicide strike in 2009. In May 2014, gunmen launched a pre-dawn attack on India's consulate in the western city of Herat. This month, the Indian consulate in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was attacked.
Philippines – Philippine security forces expressed concern over an “emerging threat” of terrorism, after suicide attackers struck the Indonesian capital on the 14 Jan 16. “Our security forces are well aware of the emerging threat and have been conducting operations to prevent terror acts anywhere in the country,” said a joint Philippine military and police statement on the Jakarta incident. Military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said there had been no recent specific threats picked up by the authorities in the Philippines. However, he said the police and military forces continued to monitor the “usual threats from local terrorist groups, such as the BIFF and ASG.” The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), blamed for many of the Catholic nation’s deadliest bombings, as well as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Muslim guerrillas, have pledged allegiance to ISIS fighters. The military has said both groups had in the past sheltered foreign militants fleeing prosecution for the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia.
India – An Indian airbase in the north-western state of Punjab had been rocked by fresh gunfire and blasts, hours after authorities announced that a day-long gun battle was over. A senior federal police official confirmed two gunmen were still holed up in Pathankot airbase on the 3 Jan 16 after pre-dawn raid on the 2 Jan 16 led to intense fighting in which four attackers and seven Indian military personnel were killed. The attack on the 2 Jan 16, 50km from the border with Pakistan, came just a week after Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, made an unannounced Pakistan visit to meet his counterpart in a bid to revive bilateral talks that had previously been derailed by armed attacks.
Outside the base, rumours had circulated on the morning of the 3 Jan 15 morning that more gunmen were still active after Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced on the 2 Jan 15 that five "terrorists" had been "neutralised". The official body count was only four, however. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but India's junior home minister hinted at involvement of armed groups based in Pakistan. "We have credible information that this attack was sponsored by some elements across the border," Kiren Rijiju, the minister, said in New Delhi on the 2 Jan 16. Pakistan, however, condemned the attack and said it wanted to build on the goodwill created by the recent high-level contacts. "Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism," Qazi Khalilullah, foreign ministry spokesman, said in a series of tweets.
The defence ministry said on the 2 Jan 15 there had been intelligence reports about a possible attack on military installations in Pathankot, and that the air force had been prepared to thwart any attackers. "Due to the effective preparation and coordinated efforts by all the security agencies a group of terrorists were detected by the aerial surveillance platforms as soon as they entered the air force station at Pathankot," the ministry said in a statement.
India/Da’esh – A threat alert from Delhi has placed anti-terror agencies in Maharashtra on their toes. An e-mail allegedly sent on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stated that the terror group would blow up trains leaving Delhi for other stations including Mumbai in the next 72 hours it was reported on the 3 Jan 16. Mumbai, Delhi and Kanpur have been put on high alert after the threat. The e-mail also said that the blast would occur between Kanpur and Delhi stations. The Maharashtra ATS was alerted by a central agency on the 1 Jan 16. It said, "An e-mail on behalf of ISIS is received. Mumbai is put on high alert along with Delhi and Kanpur. The mail said that several blasts would take place in express trains leaving from Delhi to other places including Mumbai." It mentioned the names of few express trains that include Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto, Sampark Kranti and Vaishali Express. ATS units across Maharashtra and railway authorities have been asked to take necessary precautions. A police officer from Railways said, "We were notified by the ATS in the wee hours of the 3 Jan 16. Extra patrolling and checking is being done inside express and mail trains. We are also conducting security checks at all railway stations. All cops have been asked to stay alert."
Indonesia/Da’esh – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has claimed responsibility for the coordinated bomb and gun attacks in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, a news agency linked to ISIL reported on the 14 Jan 16. At least seven people, including five attackers, were killed in the explosions and gun battle between police and the attackers in the central business district of the city. "A group of soldiers of the caliphate in Indonesia targeted a gathering from the crusader alliance that fights the Islamic State in Jakarta through planting several explosive devices that went off as four of the soldiers attacked with light weapons and explosive belts," the group said in a statement. ISIL's statement said there were 15 people killed, more than double the official government figure of seven.
Tito Karnavian, the Jakarta police chief, said ISIL was "definitely" behind the attack. Karnavian said that Indonesian ISIL fighter Bahrun Naim, who is believed to be in Syria, was "planning this for a while. He is behind this attack." Earlier, police said that ISIL had made specific threats before Thursday's attacks. Six blasts occurred about 50 metres apart in the central business district, which also houses a United Nations office. At least 20 people were injured in the security operations at the Sarinah shopping complex on Thamrin Street. Police said the attack had ended and that security forces were in control of the area. "Six gunmen on motorbikes entered the downtown area carrying long rifles, shooting into the crowd, with some carrying explosives," Vaessen said. "One of the gunman shot a police officer from close range." Some gunmen on motorbikes reportedly escaped, police said. "Witnesses said that they found nails on the streets near the affected area, indicating that the fragments came from the explosives used in the attacks," Vaessen said.
This attack however, were the first major incidents in Indonesia's capital since the 2009 bombings of two hotels that killed seven people and injured more than 50. The attacks come two days after jailed Islamic leader Abu Bakar Bashir appealed to a court to have his conviction for funding a "terrorist training camp" overturned.
361 COMMENT: This terrorist attack will be seen as a failure. In regards to casualties there were only two civilian fatalities with more of the terrorist killed. The operation must have had poor planning especially as two of the terrorists were captured. In all probability there will be another terrorist attack in Indonesia in the very near future. The normal publicity gained with this style of incident will be negative making the terrorists look like an armature organisation. Retribution will be fast and more horrific to set the groups credibility back on track. COMMENT ENDS
Timeline of attacks in Indonesia:
13 Sep 2000: 10 Killed in Jakarta blast
24 Dec 2000: 19 killed in church bombings across the country
12 Oct 2002: 202 killed in a nightclub in Bali
05 Aug 2003: 12 killed in a Jakarta car bombing
01 Oct 2005: 23 killed in suicide attacks in Bali
07 Jul 2009: 7 killed in suicide attacks at two five star hotels
Follow-on Report 15 Jan 16: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) officially in postings on Twitter accounts claimed on the 14 Jan 16 its first attack in the heart of Jakarta on the 14 Jan 16 that brought the radical group’s violence to the world’s most populous Muslim country for the first time. At least seven people -- five attackers and two civilians -- were killed as militants launched suicide, shooting and bombing attacks that tore through a Starbucks cafe and shook an embassy district in the Muslim-majority nation.
In a statement published online, ISIS said that a number of bombs “detonated at the same time as attacks from four soldiers of the caliphate... with light weapons and suicide belts.” The statement said the attacks targeted a gathering of citizens from the “Crusader coalition,” referring to the U.S.-led alliance of countries combating ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “ISIS fighters carried out an armed attack this morning targeting foreign nationals and the security forces charged with protecting them in the Indonesian capital,” Aamaaq news agency said on its Telegram channel. Anton Charliyan, national police spokesman, said three suicide bombers and two other assailants armed with pistols carried out the attacks, which he said began with a suspected suicide bombing at a Starbucks opposite a major shopping mall. As explosion occurred, two armed assailants were waiting outside.
Two men then took hostages at the Starbucks, an Algerian and a Dutch citizen, and shot the Dutch national dead. An Indonesian tried to help but was shot dead, he said. The Algerian was wounded. “Soon afterwards, two men riding a motorbike dropped their motorbikes, ran into a police post and blew themselves up,” he said. Four police officers were inside and are now in critical condition, Charliyan said. As well as the suicide bombers, four explosive devices were detonated during the attacks -- one in Starbucks, after the suicide bombing, and during a shootout between police and the assailants. “There are two more bombs that we suspected they wanted to blow up, two big ones,” he said.
The attack comes after ISIS threats to put the country in its “spotlight.” Before the ISIS news agency affiliate claiming the attack, the Jakarta police chief said that the group is “definitely” behind the attack. Karnavian said Indonesian ISIS fighter Bahrun Naim, who is believed to be in Syria, was “planning this for a while. He is behind this attack.” Charliyan said earlier that “there is a strong suspicion that this is an ISIS-linked group in Indonesia.” “From what we see today, this group is following the pattern of the Paris attacks.” Charliyan said that the group had earlier issued a cryptic warning, saying there would be a “concert in Indonesia,” which had prompted police to beef up security ahead of New Year celebrations. Police foiled a series of terror plots in December, including some believed linked to ISIS.
Pakistan – A Pakistani police officer says a roadside bomb has killed two coast guards and wounded three others in the country's southwest it was reported on the 9 Jan 16. Police officer Muhammad Sajid says the coast guard's vehicle was struck Saturday in the Baluchistan province, which has long been the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency. Sajid says the explosion destroyed the vehicle and wounded all five guards. He says two of the guards died before reaching the hospital. Elsewhere in Baluchistan, armed motorcyclists gunned down two policemen who were guarding a mosque in the provincial capital, Quetta. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Baloch separatists have targeted Pakistani security forces in the past.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a polio eradication centre in Pakistan's western city of Quetta, police said on the 13 Jan 16 following the latest attack on the campaign against polio in the country. At least 14 people were killed and 20 others injured in the explosion on Wednesday. The armed group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomb ripped through a police van that had just arrived at the centre to provide an escort for vaccination workers engaged in a drive to immunise all children under five years old in the province of Balochistan.
The attack comes after the campaign against polio was relaunched in Quetta and other districts of Balochistan on the 11 Jan 16. Most of the dead were security forces on their way to guard the polio vaccination centre, which was in the last day of a programme. Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world that remains on the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of polio-endemic countries. The campaign faced threats against polio vaccination teams issued by armed groups such as the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and its allies in the past.
Turkey – A member of the Islamic State (ISIL) is believed to be behind the 12 Jan 16 suicide bombing in the heart of Istanbul, which killed nine German tourists. The blast tore through a crowd of visitors gathered near the Blue Mosque in the Sultanahmet district, a popular tourist area that is home to many of Istanbul's Ottoman and Byzantine sites. Turkish officials said the attack was carried out by a 28-year-old Syrian member of ISIL. "We have determined that the perpetrator of the attack is a foreigner who is a member of Da’esh," said Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey's prime minister.
The bomber is believed to have entered Turkey recently from Syria but was not on a watch list of suspected militants, the Turkish government said. Unconfirmed reports in Turkish media said he may have been born in Saudi Arabia. ISIL did not claim responsibility for the bombing but is believed to have been behind two other major terror attacks inside Turkey in the last six months. Tuesday's attack also killed a Peruvian man and wounded another 15 people, including nine Germans and two Peruvians, according to Turkish media. Germany warned its citizens after the attack to avoid tourist sites in the city. Questions were asked as to whether the group was deliberately targeted for the country's liberal policy on accepting Syrian refugees. The suicide bomber blew themselves up at around 1020 hrs near the Obelisk of Theodosius, an ancient Egyptian obelisk that is often used as a starting point for tour groups.
361 COMMENT: The Islamic State (IS), according to news reports, have had a reasonable free run in Turkey over the last year and a half. When the Turkish government attempts to close down on the IS they retaliate with terrorist attacks, basically saying, “leave us alone or we will attack you, look how vulnerable you are!” This attack could be in response for the recent round up of members of the IS in Turkey. COMMENT ENDS
Follow on Report 13 Jan 16: Turkey has detained 68 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in raids across the country, state media said on the 13 Jan 16. The arrests were made after an ISIS suicide bomber killed 10 people in central Istanbul on the 12 Jan 16 but the reports did not make clear if there was any connection. Sixty-five people were detained on Tuesday in raids in Ankara; Izmir on the Aegean; the Syrian border town of Kilis; Sanliurfa close to Syria; Mersin on the Mediterranean; and the southern city of Adana, the Anatolia news agency said.
In Ankara, the authorities detained 16 people who were suspected of planning a major attack in the capital, the report said. The 21 people detained in Sanliurfa were also planning an attack at an unspecified location in Turkey, it added. On Wednesday, three more suspected ISIS members were detained in the southern resort city of Antalya. All three are Russian citizens, it added. The reports did not make clear if there was any link to Tuesday's suicide bombing in Sultanahmet Square in central Istanbul, which the authorities said was carried out by an ISIS member who came from Syria.
Follow on Report 14 Jan 16: Turkish ground forces heavily shelled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in response to a suicide attack blamed on the group that killed at least 12 people in Istanbul, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. Davutoglu said on the 14 Jan 16 the Turkish army fired some 500 times on ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria over the last two days, killing nearly 200 ISIL fighters. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the toll. "After the incident on the 12 Jan 16 close to 500 artillery and tank shells were fired on Da’esh positions in Syria and Iraq," Davutoglu said. Davutoglu also said that Turkey will carry out air strikes against ISIL if necessary. ISIL has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
361 COMMENT: We may be seeing a tit for tat action here to show who has the most power. COMMENT ENDS
Turkey/PKK – A car bomb blast near a police building in a Kurdish-majority province in south-eastern Turkey has killed six people and injured at least 39 others, officials said on the 14 Jan 16. The bomb attack, blamed by officials on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), caused heavy damage to outer walls of the police headquarters in the town of Cinar in the province of Diyarbakir. The fighters followed up the bombing with rocket attacks and gunfire, adding that adjacent housing for families of police officers and a private house with civilians inside were also hit. The PKK has been fighting against the Turkish state since 1984, initially for Kurdish independence, although it now presses for greater autonomy and rights for the country's largest ethnic minority. Turkish forces and PKK fighters have been engaged in intense clashes in the southeast of the country since a 2013 ceasefire collapsed in July and Turkey started an air campaign against the group.