Afghanistan/Da’esh – Six Afghan Red Cross workers have been killed by suspected Da’esh gunmen in the northern province of Jowzjan, officials have said on the 8 Feb 17. The workers were shot dead in the Qush Tepa area, the governor said. Two others are unaccounted for, feared abducted by the group, he said. The ICRC confirmed the deaths but said it did not know who had killed its staff. Da’esh has been active in Afghanistan since 2015, claiming recent attacks in the east and Kabul. There was no immediate claim for the attack in Jowzjan. Government officials said the Red Cross staff were transporting supplies to areas affected by recent deadly snowstorms. Jowzjan governor Lutfullah Azizi confirmed that all six employees who were killed were Afghan. Taliban militants have also targeted the Red Cross in the past - its office in Jalalabad was attacked in 2013. Da’esh announced it was expanding into Afghanistan in Jan 15 and has secured footholds in parts of eastern Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan. But Afghan troops and the Taliban have prevented them from moving permanently beyond that, observers say. Since mid-2016 the group appears to have switched tactics, launching a series of deadly attacks against Shia Muslims and others in Kabul and bombing a mosque in the northern province of Balkh, neighbouring Jowzjan, in October.
Afghanistan – At least seven people have been killed and 20 wounded in a suicide bomb attack in the capital city of Afghanistan's Helmand province, according to officials on the 11 Feb 17. The bomber detonated an explosives-packed car next to an Afghan army vehicle as soldiers arrived at a bank in Lashkar Gah to collect their pay, Omar Zwak, spokesman for the Helmand governor said. Among the dead were four civilians and three soldiers, Zwak said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which also wounded 16 civilians and four soldiers. Hundreds of international troops are stationed in Helmand as part of a NATO-led effort to train and support Afghan security forces.
China – Three assailants killed five people and injured 10 others before they were shot dead by police on the 14 Feb 17 in Pishan county, local officials said. No motive was given, but the government often blames Muslim separatists for such attacks. Xinjiang, an autonomous region, is home to China's Uighur ethnic minority, which is predominantly Muslim. The region has suffered years of unrest. Rights groups say the violence is due to the tight controls by the government on the religion and culture of Uighurs. The government denies any repression. A statement posted on the local government website called the attackers "thugs". It said police were on the scene within minutes. "At present, social order is normal at the site, society is stable, and investigation work is under way," it said. The county issued the highest level of security alert after the attack and armed police are patrolling the streets, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reports. Dilxat Raxit, of the exiled World Uyghur Congress, told the Agence France-Presse news agency that six people had been arrested, including two young Uighurs who shared information about the incident.
Kashmir/India – Four suspected rebels, two Indian army soldiers and one civilian were killed in a gun battle in a village in India-administered Kashmir on the 12 Feb 17 an army spokesman said. The suspected rebels were hiding in a south Kashmir village when the army and police surrounded it, a police official said. In the ensuing fire fight four suspected fighters and two soldiers were killed. "Four terrorists were killed and four weapons were recovered from the encounter site," army spokesman in Srinagar, Colonel Manish said. "Two soldiers were also martyred and three injured during the encounter," he added. A civilian, the young son of the owner of the house in which the suspected rebels were hiding, was also killed, Jammu and Kashmir police chief S P Vaid said.
Pakistan/Jamaat-ul-Ahrar – A powerful bomb blast on the 13 Feb 17 ripped through a protest in the Pakistani city of Lahore, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens. The explosion went off in Lahore's busy Mall Road during a rally attended by hundreds of pharmacists protesting against changes to a drug sale law outside the provincial assembly building. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban-linked armed group, claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded at least 83 people, including media personnel covering the protest. A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that the blast was "just the start". Witnesses said that the blast occurred near the Punjab assembly building when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed into a police vehicle. At least five police officers were killed in the attack, according to Mushtaq Sukhera, inspector general of police in Punjab province. "It was a suicide attack. The bomber exploded himself when successful negotiations were under way between police officials and the protesters," Sukhera told reporters. Lahore was the site of an Easter Day bombing that killed more than 70 people in a public park last year. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for that attack, as well as for a bombing at a hospital in Quetta that killed 74 people in Aug 16.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar ("Assembly of the Free") is a militant Sunni Islamic Deobandi group that split away from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in August 2014. Although some media outlets reported that the group had pledged allegiance to ISIS, it had merely voiced support for the group. In March 2015, the group's spokesman announced that it was rejoining the Pakistani Taliban. Active since 2014; ideology – Sunni Islamic Fundamentalism; Areas of operation – Federally Administered Areas (FATA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Afghanistan; Allies – Da’esh – Khorasan Province.
Pakistan – A top Pakistani bomb squad officer was killed along with another policeman while trying to defuse a bomb in the south-western city of Quetta, police said on the 13 Feb 17. The commander of the city's bomb disposal unit and a colleague were killed late on the 13 Feb 17 hours after another blast killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 80 in the eastern city of Lahore. The blasts were claimed by different militant factions and did not appear to be related. They came after a period of relative calm had bolstered hopes for an overall improvement in security. The Sunni Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi's Al Alami faction claimed responsibility on the 14 Feb 17.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) or "Army of Jhangvi", is a Sunni supremacist and jihadist militant organisation based in Pakistan with limited operations in Afghanistan. An offshoot of anti-Shia sectarian group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), the LeJ was founded by former SSP activists Riaz Basra, Malik Ishaq, Akram Lahori, and Ghulam Rasool Shah. The LeJ has claimed responsibility for various mass casualty attacks against the Shia community in Pakistan, including multiple bombings that killed over 200 Hazara Shias in Quetta in 2013. It has also been linked to the Mominpura Graveyard attack in 1998, the abduction of Daniel Pearl in 2002, and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009. A predominantly Punjabi group, the LeJ has been labelled by Pakistani intelligence officials as one of the country's most virulent terrorist organisations. Basra, the first Emir of LeJ, was killed in a police encounter in 2002. He was succeeded by Malik Ishaq, who was also killed, along with Ghulam Rasool Shah, in an encounter in Muzaffargarh in 2015. LeJ was banned by Pakistan in August 2001. The LeJ remains active, and has been designated as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States and the United Nations.
Pakistan/Tehreek e-Taliban – A suicide bomber targeted a government van in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least one person and wounding several others, officials said. Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek e-Taliban, claimed the attack on the 15 Feb 17 which follows a recent surge in violence across the country. "We claim responsibility for the suicide attack on the vehicle of the judiciary. The man who carried out the suicide attack was the brave warrior Sabir Swati," the group said in a statement, as it warned of further attacks. "Remember that the Pakistani judiciary and those [...] who work for it are an obstacle to the imposition of an Islamic system. These people are the reason for mujahideen [fighters] being imprisoned or executed." The attacker, who rammed his motorcycle into the van, appeared to be targeting government judicial employees in the Hayatabad area, police officials said. "There was a suicide bomber on a motorcycle … the driver of the van has been killed, and four others have been wounded," said senior police official Sajjad Ahmed, speaking to media at the site of the explosion. "We have found body parts of the bomber as well as his motorcycle, which hit the van," said Ahmed. "We have started a search operation, we will be able to share more information after it is completed." Muhammad Tahir, Peshawar's police chief, said: "The initial analysis shows that at least 15kg of explosives were used in this attack."
Pakistan/Jamaat-ul-Ahrar – A suicide bombing, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban faction, has killed three policemen and two passers-by in the administrative headquarters of a tribal region in north-western Pakistan, officials said. The explosion went off at the main gate of the tribal headquarters in Ghalanai, in the Mohmand tribal region, just as the workday was about to start on the 15 Feb 17 said Hameedullah Khan, a local government official. A breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar group, claimed the attack in a statement sent to media. Khan, whose office is inside the compound, said the grounds contain homes, offices and training facilities for the local administration and police employees. The Pakistani army said the bomber was accompanied by another fighter, who tried to force his way into the compound after the explosion went off but that security guards opened fire and killed him. A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that the blast was "just the start".
Pakistan – Pakistani counter-terrorism police raided a militant hideout and killed six suspected members of a Taliban faction that has launched a new campaign of violence against the government, police said on the 16 Feb 17. Since the 13 Feb 17 several bomb attacks across the country have shattered a period of improving security, underscoring how militant groups still pose a threat in the nuclear-armed country of 180 million people. The Counter Terrorism Department in Punjab province said its officers surrounded a hideout of the Pakistani Taliban's Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction in the city of Multan late on the 15 Feb 17 and ordered the suspects inside to surrender. "But the terrorists started firing at the raiding party and threw explosives," a spokesman for the department said in a statement. Six militants were killed while three or four escaped under cover of darkness, the department added. Two hand grenades, two automatic rifles and two pistols were recovered. The militant faction claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack near the Punjab provincial assembly in the city of Lahore on the 13 Feb 17 that killed 13 people and wounded more than 80. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar said the attack was the beginning of a new campaign of violence against the government, security forces, the judiciary and secular political parties.
Turkey/Da’esh – Turkish police on the 5 Feb 17 detained around 400 suspected members of Da’esh in nationwide raids, including foreigners and those suspected of planning attacks, reports said. The operation around the country saw 150 suspects detained in Sanliurfa in the southeast, 60 in the capital Ankara as well as dozens more arrests in provinces ranging from Bursa in the west to Bingol in the east, the Dogan and Anadolu news agencies reported.
Turkey/Da’esh – Turkey has detained four suspected members of the Islamic State extremist group in the south-eastern city of Gaziantep accused of planning a major attack, the Dogan news agency said on the 9 Feb 17. Police seized 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of explosives, detonation equipment and two Kalashnikovs. Dogan said IS leaders in northern Syria had ordered members to carry out a "sensational" attack in Turkey. As well as the explosives and Kalashnikovs, police seized equipment for making suicide bombs, devices for setting bombs off via mobile phone, a pistol and cartridges. Dogan said the stash had been buried under the earth in an open area and was found by sniffer dogs after the suspects were questioned. The operation came just over a month after 39 people, mainly foreigners, were killed on New Year's Eve when a gunman went on the rampage inside a plush Istanbul nightclub.
Turkey Elections – Turkey's election board officially confirmed on the 11 Feb 17 that a referendum on constitutional changes that would expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers will take place on April 16. High Election Board head Sadi Guven said in a televised speech that the date was fixed after the law was published on the Official Gazette. Erdogan signed the contentious law on the 10 Feb 17, clearing the way for public vote. Guven said two colours, white and brown, would be used in ballot papers representing "yes" and "no" respectively. The 18-article new constitution would create an executive presidency for the first time in modern Turkey. The president will have the power to appoint and fire ministers, while the post of prime minister will be abolished. The government says the far-reaching changes are needed for more effective leadership, but opponents fear they will drag Turkey into one-man rule. Erdogan is seen by critics as increasingly autocratic after 14 years in power as both prime minister and president.
Ukraine – A prominent separatist commander has been killed in eastern Ukraine, four days after another pro-Russian military leader was blown up by a car bomb it was reported on the 8 Feb 17. Mikhail Tolstykh, known as Givi, died in his office in an explosion described by rebel authorities in Donetsk as a terrorist attack. Eastern Ukraine has seen its bloodiest period of clashes since 2015, with at least 35 deaths in little over a week. Rebels have blamed Ukraine's security services for both bomb attacks. Oleg Anashschenko, who was de facto defence minister of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR), had been driving in Luhansk when his car blew up on the 4 Feb 17. The two military figures blown up in the past few days are the latest in a series of rebel commanders killed in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainians in Kiev have put the most recent killings down to infighting among rebels. Military commentator and MP Dmytro Tymchuk suggested that Givi had begun ignoring orders, particularly during the escalation of fighting at Avdiivka last week, just outside Donetsk. Givi led the so-called Somali battalion during the rebels' successful campaign to seize control of Donetsk airport. He was one of the best-known faces among the separatists, along with Arseny Pavlov, widely known as Motorola, who was blown up in a lift at a block of flats in Donetsk last October. Pavlov, a Russian military veteran, was high on Kiev's wanted list, having told reporters that he had killed 15 Ukrainian prisoners.
Ever since the conflict in the east began, there have been numerous incidents involving separatist leaders and rarely have the attackers been caught.
January 2015: Oleksandr Bednov, head of Luhansk rapid reaction force, shot dead with bodyguards
May 2015: Oleksiy Mozhovyy, killed with entourage in ambush
August 2016: Ihor Plotnitskiy, head of the self-styled Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), survives an attack on his car; both his parents died in Russia the following month, reportedly of mushroom poisoning
September 2016: Ex-Plotnitskiy adviser hangs himself while in detention for allegedly plotting a coup
January 2017: Ex-LPR leader Valeriy Bolotov dies suddenly in Moscow, weeks after accusing Plotnitskiy of illegally seizing power.