Afghanistan/United States/Da’esh – The US military's largest non-nuclear bomb killed dozens of Islamic State militants as it smashed their mountain hideouts, Afghan officials said on the 14 Apr 17 ruling out any civilian casualties despite the weapon's destructive capacity. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, dubbed the "Mother Of All Bombs," hit IS positions in Achin district in eastern Nangarhar province on the 13 Apr 17. The bomb, unleashed by the US for the first time in combat, is expected to further erode IS's capabilities in Afghanistan and sends a warning to the much bigger Taliban group ahead of their annual spring offensive. It comes only a week after US President Donald Trump ordered missile strikes against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack, and as China warned of the potential for conflict amid rising tensions over North Korea. "As a result of the bombing, key Da’esh hideouts were destroyed and 36 IS fighters were killed," the Afghan defence ministry said, adding that the bombing was carried out in coordination with local military forces. Trump had earlier called the mission "very, very successful". The huge bomb, delivered via an MC-130 transport plane, has a blast yield equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, and the weapon was originally designed as much to intimidate foes as to clear broad areas. The explosion reverberated for miles and engulfed the remote area in towering flames, destroying what Afghan officials called a network of underground IS tunnels and caves that had been mined against conventional ground attacks. "The explosion was the biggest I have ever seen," Achin governor Esmail Shinwari said, adding the bomb landed in the Momand Dara area of the district. An Afghan militant source said from an undisclosed location that locals had described the ground shaking "like an earthquake", with people being knocked unconscious by the blast. The arsenal was dropped after fighting intensified over the past week and US-backed ground forces struggled to advance on the area. An American Special Forces soldier was killed last Saturday in Nangarhar while conducting anti-IS operations. Security experts say IS had built their redoubts close to civilian homes, but the government said thousands of local families had already fled the area in recent months of fighting. "Precautions were taken to avoid civilian casualties," President Ashraf Ghani said on Twitter, throwing his support behind the bombardment. It was "designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and US forces conducting clearance operations in the region." The bombardment marks a surge in US military raids against global jihadist groups. The Taliban, who are expected to soon announce the start of this year's fighting season, also condemned what it called "America's heavy use of weapons on Afghanistan". Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, is a hotbed of IS militancy. US forces have conducted a number of air strikes on jihadist bases in the area since Aug 16. Da’esh has been making inroads into Afghanistan in recent years. It has attracted disaffected members of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as Uzbek Islamists. But the group has been steadily losing territory in the face of heavy pressure both from US air strikes and a ground offensive led by Afghan forces.
Afghanistan/Taliban – At least 11 civilians were killed when a roadside bomb ripped through their vehicle in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, officials said on the 15 Apr 17. The blast hit a van travelling from the remote Nawa district to the provincial capital Lashkar Gah on Friday, government spokesman Omar Zhwak said. "The blast was powerful and all those on board the van were killed," Zhwak said, adding officials were trying to determine whether any women or children were among the victims. Helmand police chief Agha Noor Kentoz blamed the Taliban for the blast, saying the road had been mined to target Afghan security forces who frequently use it. A Taliban spokesman was not immediately reachable for comment, but roadside bombs have been the group's weapon of choice in the war against foreign and Afghan security forces. Most of Helmand, the biggest poppy-growing province in the country, is already estimated to be under Taliban control with Lashkar Gah - one of the last government-held enclaves - also at risk of falling to the armed group. Afghan security forces now control less than 60 percent of the country, according to US estimates, with the Taliban holding about 10 percent and the remainder contested between various armed groups.
China/North Korea/United States – US President Donald Trump held out the possibility on the 2 Apr 17 of using trade as a lever to secure Chinese cooperation against North Korea and suggested Washington might deal with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes on its own if need be. The comments, in an interview published on the 2 Apr 17 by the Financial Times, appeared designed to pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping in the run-up to his visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida this week. "China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won't. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don't it won't be good for anyone," Trump was quoted as saying, according to an edited transcript published by the newspaper. Asked what incentive the US had to offer China, Trump replied: "Trade is the incentive. It is all about trade." Asked if he would consider a "grand bargain" in which China pressured Pyongyang in return for a guarantee the US would later remove troops from the Korean peninsula, the newspaper quoted Trump as saying: "Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you." It is not clear whether Trump's comments will move China, which has taken steps to increase economic pressure on Pyongyang but has long been unwilling to do anything that may destabilise the North and send millions of refugees across their border. It is also unclear what the US might do on its own to deflect North Korea from the expansion of its nuclear capabilities and from the development of missiles with ever-longer ranges and the capacity to deliver atomic warheads. Trump's national security aides have completed a review of US options to try to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes that includes economic and military measures but leans more towards sanctions and increased pressure on Beijing to rein in its reclusive neighbour, a US official said. Although the option of pre-emptive military strikes on North Korea is not off the table, the review prioritises less-risky steps and "de-emphasises direct military action," the official added, saying it was not immediately known if the National Security Council recommendations had made their way to Trump. The White House declined comment on the recommendations. Trump and Xi are also expected to discuss Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, when they meet on Thursday and Friday. China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the strategic waterway. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on the 2 Apr 17 with China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, about Xi's visit "and other issues of bilateral and regional importance," a State Department official said. China's foreign ministry said in a statement on the 3 Apr 17 about the call that Yang had described the meeting between Xi and Trump as being of "great significance" for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. Tillerson told Yang that the US would do its utmost to ensure that the meeting had "positive results," the ministry said. Trump's deputy national security adviser, Kathleen Troia McFarland, said there was a "real possibility" North Korea could be capable of hitting the United States with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of Trump's four-year term, the Financial Times reported. McFarland's estimate appeared more pessimistic than those of many experts. "The typical estimates are that it will take five years or so," said Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US and a leading expert on North Korea's nuclear programme. Such estimates are notoriously hard to make both because of the scarcity of intelligence about North Korea and uncertainty about how high a success rate Pyongyang might want for such missiles. John Schilling, a contributor to the "38 North" North Korea monitoring project, said Pyongyang might have missiles capable of limited strikes on the US mainland by the end of Trump's term, but "it will most likely be a bit later than that." "I doubt that any missile they could put into service by the end of 2020 will be very reliable, but perhaps it doesn't have to be - one or two successes out of six launches against the US would be a political game-changer to say the least," Schilling said.
China/South Korea/North Korea – China has agreed to "strong" new measures to punish North Korea if it carries out a nuclear test, Seoul said on the 10 Apr 17 after the US signalled it may act to shut down Pyongyang's weapons programme. South Korea's top nuclear envoy made the comment after talks with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei, as the US sent a naval strike group to the region in a show of force. "We agreed that there should be strong additional measures based on UN Security Council resolutions if the North pushes ahead with a nuclear test or an ICBM launch despite warnings from the international community," kim Hong-Kyun said. The North may stage a "strategic provocation" to mark key political dates this month, Kim said, adding that Wu's visit would serve as a "strong warning" against Pyongyang. Wu did not speak to the media after the talks. China is the isolated country's sole major ally and economic lifeline, and Beijing in Feb 17 suspended all coal imports from the North in punishment for Pyongyang's latest missile test. Speculation of an imminent nuclear test is brewing as the North marks anniversaries including the 105th birthday of its founding leader on Saturday — sometimes celebrated with a demonstration of military might.
The talks between Kim and Wu came shortly after Trump hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a summit at which he pressed Beijing to do more to curb the North's nuclear ambitions. "[We] are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after the summit. He added however that Beijing had indicated a willingness to act on the issue. "We need to allow them time to take actions," Tillerson said, adding that Washington had no intention of attempting to remove the regime of Kim Jong-un. The meeting between Xi and Trump came on the heels of yet another missile test by the North, which fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. The US navy strike group Carl Vinson cancelled a planned trip to Australia this weekend, heading toward the Korean peninsula instead, in a move that will raise tensions in the region. Seoul and Washington are also conducting joint military drills, an annual exercise which is seen by the North as a practice for war. Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year. Satellite imagery analysis suggests it could be preparing for a sixth, with US intelligence officials warning that Pyongyang could be less than two years away from its goal of striking the continental United States.
China, the US, South Korea and Japan all have dedicated envoys who meet regularly to discuss the North Korean issue: a legacy of the long-stalled six-party process that also involved Pyongyang and Moscow. The North quit the negotiations in 2009. The isolated North is barred under UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology, but repeated rounds of sanctions have failed to arrest its nuclear ambitions. Trump has previously threatened unilateral action against the reclusive state, a threat that appeared more palpable after the strike on a Syrian airfield following an apparent chemical attack. US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on the 9 Apr 17 criticised North Korea as a rogue nation engaged in provocative behaviour and said denuclearisation of the peninsula "must happen". "The president has asked them to be prepared to give us a full range of options to remove that threat," he said on Fox News, apparently referring to Trump's advisers. South Korea's Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said on Monday that the repercussions of a potential military response were worrying. "Pre-emptive strikes may be aimed at resolving North Korea's nuclear problems, but for us, it is also related to defending the safety of the public," he told reporters. While a US unilateral strike on North Korea from a shorter range might be more effective, it would likely endanger many civilians in the South and risk triggering a broader military conflict, experts warn. "The US has always had all the options on the table from a preventive strike to pre-emptive strike to negotiations," said James Kim, an analyst at Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies. "If it's a preventive strike or precision strike, there's danger that this could expand into a broader regional conflict involving China or Japan. "The upside is that the United States may be able to denuclearise the North by force... but it will come at a huge cost to the region and to the United States," he said.
Indonesia/Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD) – Police in Indonesia say they killed six suspected members of an armed group after a failed drive-by shooting targeting officers in East Java. Frans Barung Mangera, East Java Police spokesperson, said that after a police chase on the 8 Apr 17 the six abandoned their vehicle in a village in the Tuban area, not far from the industrial city of Surabaya, and attempted to flee into a plantation where they were all killed in a second gun battle with police. "We tried to stop that vehicle, but the vehicle did not stop," Mangera said. "By around 1700 hrs we had immobilised all of them," he added, confirming that all six had died during the incident. Those in the vehicle "took out weapons and shot at officers". A box of 9mm bullets was found in their vehicle, he said. Police were monitoring the vehicle prior to the attack, Mangera said, in connection with 7 Apr 17 arrest of three suspected members of the group Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD), who were allegedly planning an attack on a police station and had bought M16 machine guns from the southern Philippines. Among those arrested on the 7 Apr 17 was Zainal Anshori, a senior figure of JAD, an umbrella group of Indonesian fighters that claims allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. JAD, which is on a US state department "terrorist" list, is estimated to have drawn hundreds of ISIL sympathisers in Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population. Giving his version of the incident, Rikwanto, Indonesia's national police spokesperson, said: "When the local police swept through the area, a gunshot was heard. A gunfight took place after and six of the men died." Police arrested one member of the group alive. Rikwanto accused Anshori of orchestrating the planned attack on the police. "They had acted on Anshori's order as a revenge of his arrest," he said, citing police interrogation of other arrested fighters. Police said they seized dozens of rounds of ammunition, several firearms, knives, books and a car used by the men. Indonesia has suffered a series of attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. It has had some major successes tackling violence inspired by al-Qaeda's attacks on the US in 2001. However, it has been on high alert over a recent resurgence in activism inspired by ISIL, also known as ISIS. The most serious incident last year was in January when four suicide bombers and fighters attacked a shopping area in central Jakarta.
Korean Peninsula/United States – The Pentagon says a group of US warships is headed to the western Pacific Ocean to provide a physical presence near the Korean Peninsula it was reported on the 9 Apr 17. The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore towards the Korean Peninsula. The development comes in response to North Korea's "reckless, irresponsible" conduct, a US navy official said, referring to recent missile tests. "US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific," Commander Dave Benham, spokesperson at US Pacific Command said. "The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability." In a statement late on the 8 Apr 17 the US navy's Third Fleet said the strike group had been directed to sail north, but it did not specify the destination. The military vessels will operate in the western Pacific rather than making previously planned port visits to Australia, it said. Deployed from San Diego to the western Pacific since the 5 Jan 17 the Carl Vinson strike group has participated in numerous exercises with the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force and Republic of Korea Navy, various maritime security initiatives, and routine patrol operations in the South China Sea. The US decision comes close on the heels of a US missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as putting North Korea on notice over its refusal to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Earlier this month, North Korea tested a liquid-fuelled Scud missile which only travelled a fraction of its range. This year (2017) North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong-un, have repeatedly indicated an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as the 15Apr 17, the 105th birthday of North Korea's founding president and celebrated annually as the Day of the Sun. North Korea is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them in 2016. Expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth, with US intelligence officials warning that North Korea could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental US. Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Florida, where Trump urged his counterpart to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear programme. Trump's national security aides have completed a review of US options to try to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes. These include economic and military measures but lean more towards sanctions and increased pressure on China to restrain North Korea. In Feb 17 the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on US bases in the neighbouring Asian country. In Aug 16 North Korea also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile 500km towards Japan, far exceeding any previous sub-launched tests, in what Kim described as the "greatest success".
North Korea/United States – North Korea denounced the US deployment of a naval strike group to the region on the 11 Apr 17 warning it is ready for "war" as Washington tightens the screws on the nuclear-armed state. The strike group, which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft super-carrier USS Carl Vinson, cancelled a planned trip to Australia this weekend, heading to the Korean peninsula instead in a show of force. "This goes to prove that the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase," a spokesman for the North's foreign ministry said according to state news agency KCNA. "The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US," he said, using the country's official name. President Donald Trump, fresh from ordering a missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea, has asked his advisors for a range of options to rein in Pyongyang, a top US official said on the 9 Apr 17. Trump has previously threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if China, the North's sole major ally, fails to help curb its neighbour's nuclear ambitions. But Pyongyang's response suggested the reclusive state is determined to continue on its current path, despite repeated rounds of United Nations sanctions. "We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms," the foreign ministry spokesman said. "We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions." Speculation over an imminent nuclear test is brewing as the North marks anniversaries including the 105th birthday of its late founder on Saturday, sometimes celebrated with a demonstration of military might. Thousands of troops and top military officials gathered in Pyongyang on the 10 Apr 17 to pledge loyalty to leader Kim Jong-Un ahead of his grandfather's birth anniversary, state media said. State TV showed thousands of goose-stepping soldiers marching in unison, carrying giant portraits of the regime's founder Kim Il-Sung and his son, Kim Jong-Il, in front of the Kumsusan mausoleum where their embalmed bodies are on display. "If they (the US and the South) try to ignite the spark of war, we will wipe out all of the invaders without a trace with, our strong pre-emptive nuclear strike," Hwang Pyong-So, director of the political bureau at the North's army, said in a speech. Kim was not seen at the event televised on the 11 Apr 17. The South's prime minister and acting president warned of a "grave provocation" by the North to coincide with other anniversaries, including the army's founding day on April 25. "There is a possibility that the North launches more grave provocations such as another nuclear test to mark a number of anniversaries," Hwang Kyo-Ahn said in a cabinet meeting. Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year. Satellite imagery analysis suggests it could be preparing for a sixth, with intelligence officials warning it could be less than two years away from achieving the ability to strike the continental United States. South Korea's top nuclear envoy said on the 10 Apr 17 after talks with his Chinese counterpart that the two nations had agreed to "strong" new measures to punish Pyongyang if it carried out another nuclear test. The talks came shortly after Trump hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a summit at which he pressed Beijing to do more to curb the North's nuclear ambitions. "(We) are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after the summit. While a US unilateral strike on North Korea from a shorter range might be more effective, it would likely endanger many civilians in the South and risk triggering a broader military conflict, experts warn.
Pakistan/Tehreek-e-Taliban – An explosion has targeted a Pakistani government census team, killing at least five people in the eastern city of Lahore, officials said. The blast on the morning of the 5 Apr 17 in Pakistan's second largest city also wounded at least nine people, all suffering from major injuries, according to a source at Lahore's General Hospital, where they were being treated. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group claimed responsibility, saying it was a suicide attack. "The target seems to be the census team and the soldiers guarding them," Malik Ahmed Khan, a spokesperson for the Punjab government, told local television news channel Geo. MIitary sources said that four military personnel - three army soldiers and one member of the air force - were killed in the attack. Rana Sanaullah, a senior provincial minister, told Geo the attack "appeared to be an act of terrorism". Pakistan's Bureau of Statistics launched its first door-to-door population census since 1998 last month, working in conjunction with the military, which has deployed 200,000 troops to provide security for the exercise. At least 119,000 government employees are taking part in the exercise as enumerators. The lead-up to the census has been marked by political debate on how the results may show changing demographics - potentially redrawing electoral constituencies - across the country. In response, Pakistan’s military announced it was launching a new operation - dubbed Radd-al-Fasaad, or Elimination of Mischief/Chaos - across the country, to cement the gains made against the Pakistan Taliban during a previous three-year operation launched in 2014.
Philippines/Abu Sayyaf – Soldiers battling Abu Sayyaf in central Philippines are reported to have killed a key commander of the armed group who had been blamed for the beheadings of two Canadians and a German hostage. Military chief of staff General Eduardo Ano said troops recovered and identified the remains of Moammar Askali, also known as Abu Rami, at the scene of the battle in a coastal village on Bohol island on the 11 Apr 17. Five other Abu Sayyaf members were killed, along with four soldiers and policemen. Ano said troops took the picture of Askali after his death and that captured Abu Sayyaf fighters identified the young commander. "This is a major blow to the Abu Sayyaf," Ano said. "If they have further plans to kidnap innocent people somewhere, they will now have to think twice." He said Askali had led several fighters, who travelled by speedboats from their jungle hideouts in the southern Sulu province to Bohol, in an apparent bid to carry out another kidnapping in a region that is popular for its beach resorts and wildlife. Sporadic gun battles between the remaining Abu Sayyaf fighters and government forces continued on the 12 Apr 17 military officials said. At least 10 people has been killed since the 11 Apr 17 in the fighting in Bohol, far from the group's southern jungle bases. Military officials say at least six fighters, three soldiers and a policeman have died in the ongoing gun battle in a village in the coastal town of Inabanga. Ronald dela Rosa, the national police chief director-general, said troops and policemen attacked the armed men early on the 11 Apr 17 in Inabanga, where they had arrived aboard three boats. It is the Abu Sayyaf's first known attempt to carry out ransom kidnappings deep in the heartland of the central Philippines, far from its jungle lairs in the southern provinces of Sulu and Basilan. Bohol, which is popular with tourists, lies about 640km southeast of Manila, and about an hour away by boat from Cebu province, across the busy Cebu Strait. Abu Sayyaf fighters have crossed the sea border with Malaysia on powerful speedboats and kidnapped scores of foreign tourists in past years. In 2001, they sailed as far as western Palawan province, where they seized 20 people from a resort. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered troops to destroy the group in Sulu and in outlying island provinces, and has threatened to declare martial law in the country's south if the threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf and other groups aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gets out of control. Abu Sayyaf is still holding at least 29 captives in Sulu's jungles, many of them foreign tugboat and cargo ship crewmen seized at the sea border between the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Russia Metro Attack – On the 03 Apr 17 at approximately 1440 hrs local an explosive device detonated on a St Petersburg train. Fourteen people were fatally wounded with a further forty-nine more wounded. The blast occurred when the train departed from Sennaya Ploshchad station. First reactions said there were two separate explosions. The Russian Prosecutors office called the attack a ‘terrorist act’, this was later retracted claiming it was too early to say. Later the Russian Prime Minister called the St Petersburg explosion a terrorist attack. A second device disguised as a fire extinguisher was discovered at Ploshchad Vosstaniya. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said that a home-made explosive device had been found and been disabled. It was initially believed that the attacks were carried out by two people, this was later cancelled and later announced that one person had been responsible for both devices. At one point a report said that a male had left a briefcase in a carriage before moving to another, this was later to proven incorrect. Reports on the 04 Apr 17 stated that one person was responsible for both devices and had destroyed himself in the second blast as body parts were found in the carriage. The bomber was thought to be Akbarzhon Jalilov who was born in Kyrgyz city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan in 1995 and had obtained Russian citizenship. The reason behind the attack is not yet known nor is the motivation and association to any group known. 361 COMMENT: No doubt Da’esh will claim this attack as it did with the 22 Mar 17 London terrorist attack. But The St Petersburg attack was well planned and executed unlike the London Lone Wolf attack. The bomber places the first device on the Ploshchad Vosstaniya train before exiting that train and getting on the Sennaya Ploshchad train. The bomber knew exactly what he was doing. We do not know if the second device had a timer or where and when it was intended to detonate. During the time between placing of the device and detonating the second device he was rationally thinking because had he thought about what he was doing he would have not carried out the detonation of the second device. Although no reason for the attack is given Kyrgyzstan is populated with over 80% of Sunni Muslims so it is possible he may have been radicalised. In one open source a friend of Jalilov, Ali Matkarimov, said that he did not even say his prayers when they worked together. It is possible that this is a Lone Wolf attack and not affiliated to any particular group. It is possible, like many, that he has been radicalised on-line but someone must have assisted with the construction of the explosive devices. As mentioned one was placed inside a fire extinguisher so where did this information and idea originate from? Also how did it get onto the train without anyone noticing? The construction of a suicide vest or belt would have to be made delicately otherwise he would run the risk of a premature explosion so it possible that he was assisted with that also. In the past Da’esh and the Chechens have been blamed for attacks in Russia Jalilov may have carried out the attacks in retaliation for the attacks against Da’esh in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand with Chechnya being closer and contributed fighters to the Da’esh cause he may have fallen under their influence. At the moment there is still a lot of uncertainty about the reason and why the attack happened. Further information will be reported in open source material as time goes on. COMMENT ENDS
Russia – An explosive device was made safe in a flat in St Petersburg by Russian police, three days after a suspected bomber on the city's metro killed 13 people. A city official said several suspects were held when police raided the flat at around 0500 hrs local time (0200 hrs GMT) on the 6 Apr 17 Ria Novosti said. Neighbours were moved away and witnesses said three men were led out in handcuffs. Russian investigators were examining tape, tin foil and some other suspicious items found at Jalilov's St Petersburg flat. Russia's Investigative Committee (SK) says they appear similar to components found in a device left at Ploshchad Vosstaniya metro station on the day of the bombing. "An explosive device found in the flat has been made safe. Several suspects have been arrested; they didn't resist and there's now no threat to local people," the head of the local authority Konstantin Serov was quoted as saying. Sources told Interfax news agency that investigators were examining possible links between the three men and the alleged bomber. Witnesses said the three suspects were all from Central Asia. Russia's Investigative Committee (SK) made no reference to the arrests but said they had established that "several citizens of Central Asian republics were in contact with Jalilov". Eight people from Central Asia were arrested in the city on the 5 Apr 17 as part of the metro bomb investigation. The SK said they were held for allegedly recruiting for Islamist militant groups such as so-called Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra since 2015, and "committing crimes of a terrorist nature".
Russia/Syria/United States/Chemical Attack Aftermath – Russia and the United States have traded barbs at an ill-tempered emergency session of the UN Security Council called by Moscow after the US army launched a barrage of cruise missiles against a Syrian government airbase it was reported on the 8 Apr 17. Syria's army said six people were killed in the early hours of Friday morning after the US fired nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat airbase, in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack. Vladimir Safronkov, Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, "strongly" condemned the US for what he called a "flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression". "The consequences of this for regional and international stability could be extremely serious," he told the Security Council. For her part, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the missile strikes were "fully justified" and warned that Washington was ready to take further military action. "The United States took a very measured step last night," she told the council. "We are prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary." Mounzer, deputy Syrian ambassador to the UN, called the US strike a "barbaric, flagrant act of aggression" that will embolden "terrorist groups" to use chemical weapons in the future. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 88 people, including 29 children, were killed in the suspected poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, which the US has blamed on Assad. Haley said the missile strikes destroyed the airfield from which the US believes the suspected chemical attack was launched. "The United States will no longer wait for Assad to use chemical weapons without any consequences," Haley said. "Those days are over." While threatening further strikes, the US envoy also said it was time to press on with a political solution to the six-year war. "Is it because US President Donald Trump wants to prove he is a resolute, decisive leader who is independent of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, or is this punitive attack part of a comprehensive effort aimed at leveraging American influence in Syria to lead to a diplomatic solution," he said. Haley also took a swipe at Russia for failing to rein in its ally, and said Moscow must reconsider its support for Assad. "The world is waiting for the Russian government to act responsibly in Syria. The world is waiting for Russia to reconsider its misplaced alliance with Bashar al-Assad," she said. The US said 58 of the 59 cruise missiles fired at the Shayrat airfield hit their targets, dealing heavy damage to the base. But the Russian defence ministry downplayed the damage, claiming only 23 missiles landed on target. Satellite footage showed many of the runways were fully intact, as well as several untouched defence surface-to-air rocket launcher and radar systems. Less than 24 hours after the US strike, two Syrian jets took off from the targeted base and bombed nearby rebel targets, according to the Observatory, which monitors Syria's conflict via a network of contacts on the ground. Regardless of its damage, the attack - Trump's biggest military decision since taking office - marked a dramatic escalation in US involvement in Syria's war. It followed days of outrage over images of dead children and victims suffering convulsions from the suspected poison gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Homs Governor Talal Barazi said the US' direct strike on the Syrian military was a clear sign it was supporting "terrorists". 361 COMMENT: With all the bravado from Syria and Russia regarding the air-strike it is understandable that they state that most of the airfield was still intact and that most of the cruise missiles did not hit the target. But there is no mention of civilian casualties where the missiles would have fallen along their target path which would have made good propaganda for the regime. Another minor point to consider is that Russia is responsible for the air defence system that Syria has in place and there is no mention of any missiles being shot down. Lastly on the 7 Apr 17 Russia stated that, “Syrian air defences are to ‘strengthened.” You would believe that the initial threat assessment would have taken into consideration a missile attack. COMMENT ENDS
Turkey/Syria/Chemical Weapon Attack – Autopsy results have revealed that chemical weapons were used in an attack which killed more than 80 people in Syria's Idlib province, according to Turkey's justice minister and reported on the 6 Apr 17. Thirty-two victims of the 4 Apr 17 attack were brought to Turkey where three subsequently died. "Autopsies were carried out on three of the bodies after they were brought from Idlib. The results of the autopsy confirms that chemical weapons were used," Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said, quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency. "This scientific investigation also confirms that Assad used chemical weapons," Bozdag added, without giving further details. The attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun drew widespread international condemnation and public revulsion, prompting the United Nations to pledge it would investigate it as a possible war crime. The Syrian government denied carrying out the raid. Russia, a key military ally of the Bashar al-Assad government, has blamed the opposition, saying a government shell hit a building where rebels were producing chemical weapons. The rebels deny this. The World Health Organization has also said some survivors had symptoms consistent with exposure to a category of chemicals that includes nerve agents. The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), which runs several field hospitals in Idlib, said doctors on the ground said the attack caused people to vomit and foam at the mouth. Others lost consciousness and suffered muscle spasms. The group said the symptoms, which also included constricted pupils and slow heart rates, were indicative of an organo-phosphorus compounds agent. The apparent chemical attack is the deadliest such incident since sarin gas killed hundreds of civilians in Ghouta near the capital in August 2013. The government assault on Idlib province has continued, a monitoring group said on the 6 Apr 17 with air raids killing at least 27 people - including 13 children - in the rebel-held town of Salqin on the 5 Apr 17. Air raids also targeted Jisr al-Shughour, a northern town in Idlib province, killing at least two people and wounding six others, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Elsewhere in Syria, the Observatory said government air raids killed at least 18 people, including nine children, in Saqba city in the Damascus suburbs on the 5 Apr 17. In other parts of the suburbs, ten people were killed on the 5 Apr 17 in air raids that targeted Douma, Hamouriah and Jesrin in Eastern Ghouta.
Turkey/Australia/New Zealand – Veterans travelling to Gallipoli for Anzac Day have been warned that terrorists may target the commemorations this year. The Australian federal government updated travel advice to Turkey after receiving information of a 'high threat of a terrorist attack' targeting the event on the 25 Apr 17 it was reported on the 6 Apr 17. Veteran Affairs Minister Dan Tehan said the overall level of advice for Turkey and Gallipoli had not changed from 'exercise a high degree of caution'. However, a specific warning has been added about terrorism, and Turkish authorities are beefing up security in anticipation. 'Make no mistake, we will not let the terrorists win,' Mr Tehan told reporters in Canberra on the 5 Apr 17. Mr Tehan said the scheduled commemorations would continue as planned. But travellers should be aware of the risks and take appropriate measures if they wished to continue with their visit. 'Unfortunately, in the current global environment, major events attract threats of varying degrees,' he said. 'Regrettably, Anzac Day is not immune.' Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Mike Phelan said his officers had been working closely with Turkish authorities, but he would not go into detail about the threat. 'We do understand that the information suggests that terrorists may attack the peninsula. It is nothing more specific than that.' He said the advice level would continue to be under review up to the Anzac Day events. 'The Australian Government has received information to suggest terrorists may seek to target Anzac Day commemorations on the Gallipoli Peninsula,' the statement read. 'Australians travelling to the Anzac Day services should minimise transit time spent in Istanbul and Ankara,' a statement from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said. 'Travel advice continues to recommend that travellers avoid large crowds and minimise time spent around potential targets for attack, including tourist sites. 'The Australian Government does not provide this advice lightly.'
Turkey/Kurds – PKK/Northern Iraq – Turkey is planning in the next weeks to launch a new cross border military incursion to oust the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, a report said on the 6 Apr 17. The report in the pro-government Yeni Safak daily was not immediately confirmed by Turkish officials but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has over the last days indicated an operation in northern Iraq could be in the offing. Turkey last week announced it had completed its half-year Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria against jihadists and Kurdish militia, although it is keeping a presence to maintain security in towns now under control of pro-Ankara Syrian rebels. But Erdogan this week said Euphrates Shield was only a "first stage" and new military operations were being planned, including for Sinjar. Yeni Safak said the new operation would begin in late April or May 17, after Turkey's crucial April 16 referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers. It will be called Tigris Shield after the other great river in Mesopotamia, it added, and involve thousands of tanks, vehicles and artillery pieces used in the Syria operation. Yeni Safak claimed the PKK had built up nine camps in the Sinjar region after moving in from 2014 to oust Islamic State (IS) jihadists who have massacred the area's Yazidi residents. It said the aim of the operation would be to cut off any contact between Sinjar and the Qandil mountain area in Iraq to the further north, where the PKK has its main rear bases. The incursion would also prevent cooperation between the PKK in Iraq and Kurdish militia in Syria that Ankara accuses of being the Syrian wing of the PKK. A key base would be Bashiqa, outside the city of Mosul, where Turkey has maintained a military presence much to the annoyance of the Baghdad government. Such an operation would risk raising tensions with Baghdad and also the United States, which has kept a wary eye on Turkey's unilateral incursion into northern Syria. After a ceasefire and peace process collapsed in 2015, the Turkish government has vowed to destroy the PKK which has waged a bloody insurgency since 1984. From 2015, the Turkish air force has bombed PKK camps in Qandil mountain but this would be the first major ground operation in Turkey's neighbour. 361 COMMENT: President Erdogan needs to be careful with this operation as he attempts to reclaim parts of the former Ottoman Empire. The Kurds have fought alongside the Americans and its allies against Da’esh. With the Attack on the 7 Apr 17 against the Assad government after the chemical attack on the 4 Apr 17 America has shown that it has lines that should not be crossed. The Kurds may well be one of them. COMMENT ENDS
Turkey/ Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on the 12 Apr 17 claimed a bomb attack on a police headquarters in the Kurdish majority of Diyarbakir that killed three, days ahead of a key vote on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the blast at the police headquarters in the south-eastern city was a "terror attack", a day after he indicated that it was an accident. The blast added to security jitters just days ahead of 16 Apr 17 referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers. In a statement carried by the Firat news agency, the PKK said its militants had carried out the attack in retaliation for the treatment of Kurds by the authorities in particular those in jails. It said the "fascist alliance" of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party MHP), which backs the constitutional changes in the referendum, was aiming to cement the "fascist system" with the executive presidency. The government had initially said that Tuesday's explosion occurred during repairs on armoured vehicles. Speaking on Haber-Turk television, Soylu said it was caused by individuals laying explosives underneath the police headquarters after digging a tunnel. A 30-metre tunnel had been dug from the adjacent building. The PKK also said that a tunnel had been dug under the police headquarters and its militants had safely "returned to base" afterwards.