Afghan/Taliban – A senior member of Afghan Taliban has said that the group is not interested if Afghan government officials are attending the Pakistan talks on stuttering peace process with Kabul. "We don't care if Kabul participates in the meeting, as we already launched our spring offensive and are getting successes against them," A news agency quoted a Taliban official as saying. The comments on the 26 Apr 16 followed the arrival of a Qatari-based Taliban delegation in Pakistan to meet Pakistani officials. A senior Taliban member based in Pakistan confirmed that a delegation of leaders was in the southern port city of Karachi, holding talks with Pakistani officials. "They arrived on the 25 Apr 16," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity, because the Taliban leadership has not authorised him to discuss the talks with the media. Two members of the Taliban's political office in Qatar, which has played a role in previous attempted peace talks, confirmed the delegation's presence in Pakistan. "Our people held a meeting with Pakistani officials and I am sure they may meet the Chinese on the 26 Apr 16," said one of the Qatar-based leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity. In Kabul, the Afghan government has been frustrated by what it sees as Islamabad's refusal to honour a pledge to force Taliban leaders based in Pakistan to join the talks, or face military action. "We are aware that Taliban delegations are in Pakistan, but we will not go there until Pakistan fulfils the promises that they made," said Dawa Khan Mina Pal, a spokesman for Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. On the 25 Apr 16, Ghani said the opportunity for peace talks "will not be there forever" and urged Pakistan to fight Taliban groups on its soil that rejected peace. Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of actively harbouring the Afghan Taliban leadership on its soil. In an unusually candid admission, Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, admitted that Islamabad has considerable influence over the Taliban because its leaders live in the country. "We have some influence over them because their leadership is in Pakistan and they get some medical facilities. Their families are here," he said. "We can use those levers to pressurise them to say, 'Come to the table'. But we can't negotiate on behalf of the Afghan government because we cannot offer them what the Afghan government can offer them."
Afghanistan/Taliban/United States – U.S. forces in Afghanistan on the 26 Apr 16 warned of fresh militant attacks in several provinces, including Kabul. A public announcement issued in the capital named eight would-be attackers and released an Afghan cell phone number ((0702210396)), encouraging anyone with information on the individuals to call. "Insurgents from the Haqqani and Taliban networks are known to be planning attacks on the Afghan people" in the northeast provinces of Parwan, Khost, Kabul and Logar, the statement said, without giving more details. The eastern Khost province borders Pakistan and traditionally has been a stronghold of the Haqqani network. The public warning comes a week after a Taliban bomb-and-gun attack in the heart of Kabul that killed nearly 70 people and injured 347 more. The Islamist insurgency claimed responsibility. Officials said the Haqqani network plotted the coordinated assault on a facility linked to the Afghan intelligence agency, alleging the militant group is operating from Pakistan and has links to that country's intelligence agency. Pakistan has rejected allegations it is aiding insurgent attacks in Afghanistan. "Pakistan condemns all forms and manifestation of terrorism and it is committed in the fight against this menace," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria. He was responding to remarks that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani delivered on the 25 Apr 16 in a speech to the parliament in Kabul. Ghani accused Islamabad of not helping in the Afghan peace efforts and of not stopping Taliban insurgents from using Pakistani soil for plotting attacks in Afghanistan. Spokesman Zakaria insisted Pakistan is making "serious efforts" to promote Afghan peace and reconciliation but said Pakistan alone is not responsible for bringing the Taliban back to the table. Zakaria said all members in the so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group shared the responsibility to do so. The group, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China, has been trying to arrange peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.
China/Korean Peninsula – Chinese President Xi Jinping said on the 28 Apr 16 China will never allow war or chaos on the Korean peninsula as he urges talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue at an Asian regional security meeting. Commenting on a number of regional security issues, the president called for strengthened security cooperation and dialogue among regional governments and the establishment of an Asian community of common destiny. The Chinese President was addressing a Foreign Ministers' meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, or CICA. The two-day meeting in Beijing took place on the 27/28 Apr 16. Speaking to a room full of foreign dignitaries, Xi Jinping has touched on a number of hot-button issues in Asia right now, including the tensions on the Korean Peninsula. "As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China has implemented relevant Security Council resolutions fully and faithfully. As a close neighbour, we will never allow war or chaos on the Korean peninsula, as this serves nobody's interests. We hope that various parties will exercise restraint, avoid mutual provocation and escalation of tension and make a joint effort to bring the nuclear issue back to the track of dialogue and negotiations as early as possible and walk towards peace and security in northeast Asia." North Korea has insisted it needs to continue developing its nuclear weapons program as a deterrent to a possible invasion by the United States and South Korea. Meanwhile, Xi Jinping has also touched on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. "China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea. We firmly stand by our sovereignty, our rights and interests in the South China Sea. But we also remain committed to resolving disputes peacefully through friendly consultations with the countries directly concerned. We will continue to work with ASEAN countries to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and co-operation." The Chinese President said peace and economic prosperity are priorities for everyone in Asia. Touching on existing security issues and terrorism, Xi Jinping is calling for more regional cooperation, saying he'd like to see the creation of what he calls an "Asian community of common destiny." Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, as the host this year's event chaired a roundtable discussion about the status of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia itself. "CICA's non-governmental forum and the sixth think tank forum will encourage all sides to actively discuss how to establish a new Asian security structure on the level of non-governmental project under track-two diplomacy, or nongovernmental and unofficial diplomacy. At the centre of this, we will hold practical discussions on how to establish the hot issues coordination mechanism, how to implement anti-terrorism and law enforcement cooperation, and how to jointly guarantee the safety of the One Road One Belt project." The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia was first established in 1992 following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. It was set up as a way to keep lines of communication open among the newly-formed governments in the former Soviet sphere and other countries in Asia. Today, it has 26 member states, including China, Russia and India. Other countries, including the US and Japan, along with a number of international organizations, attend the meetings as observers. China last hosted the CICA leaders' summit in 2014.
Philippines – Islamist militants seized four Indonesian crew of a tugboat in the southern Philippines on the night of the 14 Apr 16, the third attack on slow moving vessels in about a month, a military spokesman said on the 16 Apr 16 as troops battled Muslim rebels on a nearby island. Major Filemon Tan said seven gunmen in a blue speed boat attacked two Indonesian flagged tugboats off the Philippines' southernmost island of Sitangkay in Tawi-tawi, near the border with Malaysia's eastern Sabah state, and took the four crew. "We don't exactly know who took them but the only lawless group operating in that area is the Abu Sayyaf," Tan said, adding 10 Indonesians and four Malaysians were also abducted in two separate incidents early this month in the south. The Indonesian foreign ministry issued a statement said four Indonesian crew were taken captive after gunmen attacked two tugboats, TB Henry and TB Cristy, on their way to Kalimantan from Cebu. Six other crew were left behind but one was shot. "He is in stable condition now," the foreign ministry said, adding Malaysian water police evacuated the wounded crew to a hospital in Lahad Datu in eastern Sabah state, where the two tugboats were towed to safety. The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which is known for extortion, kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, is one of several brutal Muslim rebel factions, has stepped up activities on the remote islands. The military said the Islamist militants have been targeting foreign crew of slow moving tugboats because they could no longer penetrate resorts and coastal towns in Sabah due to increased security. Last week, Abu Sayyaf killed 18 soldiers and wounded more than 50 others in an ambush on Basilan island, prompting a massive army offensive with artillery and aerial bombings. The military said 28 rebels had died in the week-long fighting. On nearby Jolo island, the militants gave a final deadline on April 25 for payment of 300 million pesos ($6.50 million) ransom for each of the two Canadians and a Norwegian captive or they will behead the three foreign captives. Security is precarious in the resource-rich south of the largely Christian Philippines, despite a 2014 peace pact between the government and the largest Muslim rebel group that ended 45 years of conflict. Abu Sayyaf militants are holding other foreigners, including one from the Netherlands, one from Japan, one from Norway, two from Canada, four Malaysians and 10 Indonesian tugboat crew.
Philippines/Abu Sayyaf – Islamic terrorists in the Philippines have executed a Canadian hostage, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on the 25 Apr 16 after the Filipino authorities said they had found the head of a foreign man on a remote island. "I'm outraged by the news that a Canadian citizen, John Ridsdel, held hostage in the Philippines since September 21, 2015, has been killed at the hands of his captors," Trudeau said. "This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests with the terrorist group who took him hostage." Ridsdel, fellow Canadian tourist Robert Hall, Hall's girlfriend Filipina Marites Flor, and Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad were kidnapped seven months ago from yachts at a marina near the major city of Davao, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Jolo. Six weeks after the abduction, gunmen from the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group released a video on social media of their hostages held in a jungle setting, demanding the equivalent of $21 million each for the safe release of the three foreigners. The men were forced to beg for their lives on camera, and similar videos posted over several months showed the hostages looking increasingly frail. In the most recent video, Ridsdel, a retiree in his late 60s, said his captors would kill him on April 25 if a ransom of $6.4 million were not paid. Hours after the deadline passed, police in the Philippines said two people on a motorbike dropped the head near city hall on Jolo, a mostly lawless island around 1,000 kilometres south of Manila that is one of the Abu Sayyaf group's main strongholds. "We found a head in a plastic bag," provincial police chief Wilfredo Cayat said. He said the head belonged to a white man, but emphasized it was impossible to immediately identify. The local police chief issued a report to journalists with similar details. Trudeau said Canada was working with the Philippines to pursue and prosecute Ridsdel's killers, and that efforts were underway to obtain the release of the other hostages. Canadian opposition parties called his killing "shocking and saddening," "brutal and senseless" and "outrageous and despicable." Ridsdel was a friend of Bob Rae, who preceded Trudeau as leader of Canada's Liberal party. The former journalist, oil executive and sailing enthusiast had moved to the Philippines to manage a gold mine prior to retiring. The Abu Sayyaf is also believed to be holding a Dutch bird-watcher kidnapped in 2012, and has been blamed for abducting 18 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors from tugboats near the southern Philippines over the past month. The Abu Sayyaf's leaders have recently declared allegiance to the ISIS group causing carnage in the Middle East and have carried out deadly attacks in Europe. However, analysts say the Abu Sayyaf is mainly focused on lucrative kidnappings for ransom, rather than waging an ideological war or creating a violent Islamic caliphate. The United States deployed Special Forces advisers to provide training and intelligence to Filipino troops from 2002 to 2014, which led to the killing or arrest of many Abu Sayyaf leaders. After the US forces pulled out, however, the Abu Sayyaf launched a series of increasingly bold kidnapping raids, as well as deadly battles with Filipino troops that show it remains a major threat in the south. The recent kidnapping spree prompted Indonesian Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan to warn the region was in danger of becoming a "new Somalia," referring to pirates operating from the African country who have bedevilled international shipping in nearby waters
Thailand/Russia – Thailand has stepped up security in the tourist resort island of Phuket after receiving intelligence inputs that two Chechens and two ethnic Uighurs had illegally entered the country it was reported on the 13 Apr 16. An intelligence memo says two unidentified Chechens are plotting to attack Russian targets and interests in Thailand, the Khaosod English website reported. Last week, Thai Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon told the Bangkok Post that he ordered surveillance of four Uighur and Chechen tourists because they might have entered the country on fake passports or planned to launch terrorist attacks. "We have two theories. They may have snuck into Thailand to have their fake passports done so that they can travel to another country. Or they may have arrived for terror attacks," Gen Prawit told the paper. The Russian Embassy in Thailand has not issued any official alert to Russian citizens in the country.
Turkey – The death toll from rocket strikes on a Turkish town from an area in Syria controlled by militants rose to five on the 19 Apr 16 after another Syrian child died in hospital, reports said. Four Syrian children are now confirmed to have been killed in the strikes by Katyusha-type rockets on the afternoon of the 18 Apr 16 on the town of Kilis on the Syrian border, along with a Syrian shepherd, the CNN-Turk and NTV channels reported. In the last weeks, ISIS militants have repeatedly fired rockets at Kilis, the only town in Turkey where refugees from Syria’s five-year civil war now outnumber local Turks. Last week, Kilis residents held protests over the inability of local authorities to protect them, prompting a visit by Turkey’s powerful spy chief Hakan Fidan. Turkey has responded to each of the strikes on Kilis by destroying the launching positions of the militants with howitzer fire. Turkish officials have repeatedly lauded the hospitality of people in Kilis towards Syrians as an example of how Turks are hosting the 2.7 million Syrians who have fled their country’s civil war to Turkey. The four children were killed, and four others were injured, when a rocket ripped through a three-storey building where nine Syrian families had been living, helped by a local association, state-run news agency Anatolia said. The children had lost their fathers in the civil war and had come to Turkey with their mothers around two years ago, it added. The shepherd meanwhile was tending his flock when he was hit by another rocket which landed close to a school in Kilis. A 14-year-old Turkish boy was also injured in that attack. At least 11 people have now been killed so far in strikes on Kilis from Syria but this was the heaviest toll recorded so far in a single day.
Turkey/Da’esh – Six foreign nationals were taken into custody in an overnight raid against ISIS in the central Anatolian city of Konya, a statement from its governorship said on the 23 Apr 16. The operation was conducted to prevent potential activities by the group, the statement said. The detentions took place hours before German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Council President Donald Tusk were set to touch down in Gaziantep province, which borders ISIS controlled territory. ISIS has been blamed by the Turkish authorities for carrying out four bomb attacks in the NATO member state since Jun 15.
Turkey/United States/Travel Warning – The United States warned US citizens in Turkey on the 26 Apr 16 about “credible” terrorist threats to tourist areas in the country. Turkey has been hit by four suicide bombings already this year, most recently in Istanbul last month. Two of the bombings have been blamed on ISIS, while Kurdish militants have claimed responsibility for the other two. “The US government continues to receive credible indications that terrorist groups are seeking opportunities to attack popular tourist destinations throughout Turkey,” the embassy in Ankara said in a statement emailed to US citizens. “Foreign tourists in Turkey have been explicitly targeted by terrorist organizations,” the US embassy said in what it described as an “emergency message”. Last month’s attack in Istanbul’s main shopping district killed three Israelis, two of whom held dual citizenship with the United States, and one Iranian. A separate attack in the city’s historic heart in January killed 12 German tourists. Turkey is facing multiple security threats. As part of a US-led coalition, it is fighting ISIS in neighbouring Syria and Iraq. It is also battling Kurdish militants in its southeast, where a 2-1/2-year ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering the worst violence since the 1990s.
Turkey/Qatar – Turkey has announced the deployment of soldiers to its first overseas military base, which has been set up in Qatar. Speaking to students at the Qatar University in Doha on the 28 Apr 16 Turkish Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoglu said the number of the soldiers deployed will be specified later. He did not give details about the size or the precise location of the base, either. Davutoglu claimed that the base was not intended for any specific operation but was a "presence for stability." He said the security of Turkey and Qatar are intertwined, and that Turkey faces the same "threats" as Qatar. "I can tell you now that the security and stability of Qatar is like the security and stability of Turkey. We want a stable and secure [Persian] Gulf. Turkey and Qatar, we have the same destiny," he added. "We face the same threats." The base has been set up in Qatar as part of a security agreement signed in 2014. Turkish troops now could take part in military operations in the Red Sea, Northern Africa, and the Persian Gulf. Back in December 2015, Turkey's ambassador to Qatar Ahmet Demirok said that around 3,000 ground troops would be stationed at the base. He said air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces would also be deployed. Davutoglu further said the military establishment would pave the way for Qatar to set up its own military base on Turkish soil. Qatar hosts the largest US air base in the Middle East, Al Udeid, where around 10,000 military personnel are stationed