Afghanistan + 4 more

ACLED Regional Overview: South Asia and Afghanistan (23 - 29 July 2022)

Attachments

Last week in South Asia and Afghanistan, the National Resistance Front (NRF) and the Taliban continued to clash in Afghanistan. The Islamic State (IS) also suffered losses in Taliban operations, while civilians remained the target of Taliban forces. In Pakistan, unidentified armed groups and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan-Hafiz Gul Bahadur (TTP-HGB) engaged in armed clashes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. At the same time, Baloch separatists continued targeting both security forces and civilians in Balochistan. In Sri Lanka, anti-government demonstration activity decreased as the parliament extended a state of emergency. In India, Naxal-Maoist rebels clashed with state forces and targeted civilians in Chhattisgarh state in the Red Corridor. Indian National Congress (INC) members continued demonstrations against a summons issued to INC President Sonia Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a suspected money laundering case. In Bangladesh, poll-related violence broke out across several divisions prior to and during local elections held on 27 July, while clashes broke out between rival factions of the Bangladesh Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in Khulna and Rajshahi divisions.

In Afghanistan, the NRF carried out attacks against the Taliban in Panjshir, Takhar, and Kapisa provinces last week. In Panjshir, 12 Taliban members were reportedly killed in an NRF attack on Taliban vehicles in Shutul district, while five more Taliban members were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Hissa-e-Awal (Khinj) district. Violence in Panjshir is both common and highly volatile; it is considered an area of 'extreme risk' by ACLED's Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.

Meanwhile, the Taliban conducted operations against IS in Pul-i-Khumri city in Baghlan, Jalalabad city in Nangarhar, and Alingar district in Laghman last week, killing multiple IS militants. In Alingar district, the Taliban claims to have killed the founder of the group's district branch. Twelve people, including women and children, were also arrested during the operation in Jalalabad city.

Taliban forces were also responsible for more than half of recorded attacks against civilians in the country last week, including attacks on tribal elders in Kandahar and Takhar. In Kandahar, Taliban forces arrested and tortured an Achakzai tribal elder --- a tribe that the Taliban has long been in dispute with due to the tribe's support for the previous government (Foreign Policy, 30 July 2021) --- over a land dispute in Spin Boldak district. In Takhar, two tribal elders and one civilian were also arrested and tortured for their alleged cooperation with the NRF in Farkhar district, while a civilian with a speech disability was also killed in Farkhar district for unknown reasons. Taliban forces also shot and wounded a woman passing a checkpoint, with the motive for the shooting remaining unclear. Taliban attacks on civilians contribute to the 200% increase in violence in Takhar last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Takhar in the past month.

In Pakistan, unidentified armed groups, the TTP-HGB, and Baloch separatists clashed with state forces and engaged in civilian targeting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces last week. This violence contributed to the 37% increase in violence in Pakistan in the past month relative to the past year flagged by ACLED's Conflict Change Map, which first warned of increased violence to come in the country in the past month. Violence in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan is both common and highly volatile; they are both considered areas of 'extreme risk' by ACLED's Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, unidentified armed groups engaged in armed clashes with state forces and used remote explosives against civilian targets last week, resulting in multiple fatalities. Meanwhile, security forces conducted operations against the TTP-HGB in North Waziristan district, killing five militants. The TTP-HGB is a breakaway faction of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that has increased attacks on state forces in recent weeks, despite an ongoing ceasefire agreement between the mainstream TTP and Pakistani state forces (Gandhara, 10 June 2022). The group largely remained dormant until after the ceasefire was extended in June, with increased activity reported in July in North Waziristan district. ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the past month.

In Balochistan, Baloch separatists clashed with security forces and continued targeting both security forces and civilians with remote explosives and grenade attacks last week. Multiple fatalities were reported across separate attacks involving the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), and the United Baloch Army (UBA).

In Sri Lanka, anti-government demonstration activity decreased last week following a forcible crackdown on protesters at an active protest site in Colombo the week prior and ongoing violence against demonstrators. In Southern province, suspected government supporters attacked an anti-government protest site in Matara city, disrupting the protest camp and threatening the protesters with weapons. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's parliament extended a state of emergency for a further month on 27 July in a bid to stabilize the ongoing unrest in the country (Al Jazeera, 27 July 2022). The state of emergency was declared a week prior, on 17 July, by then Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, enabling military personnel to arrest and detain suspects, limit public gatherings, and search private property (Indian Express, 28 July 2022). Demonstration activity in Sri Lanka has spiked since March as the country faces one of its worst economic crises in recent decades (for more, see ACLED's infographic Sri Lanka: Increasing Debt, Increasing Demonstrations).

In India, Naxal-Maoist rebels clashed with state forces and targeted civilians in Chhattisgarh state in the Red Corridor last week, resulting in two fatalities. Naxal-Maoist activity contributes to the 186% increase in violence in Chhattisgarh last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Chhattisgarh in the past month.

Meanwhile, INC members continued demonstrations across several states and union territories last week against the alleged misuse of power dictating central investigating agencies to target opposition politicians. The demonstrations were held after the ED issued a summons to INC President Gandhi for questioning in a suspected money laundering case.

In Bangladesh, poll-related violence broke out across several divisions last week, prior to and during local elections held on 27 July. Clashes were reported in Barisal, Chittagong, Rangpur, and Rajshahi divisions, resulting in one fatality and multiple reported injuries.

Meanwhile, multiple people were injured after clashes broke out between rival factions of the AL and the BNP last week, in Khulna and Rajshahi divisions, respectively, over factionalism and establishing political supremacy.