Afghanistan + 5 more

ACLED Regional Overview: South Asia and Afghanistan (6-12 August 2022)

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Last week in South Asia and Afghanistan, the Islamic State (IS) continued to target Shiite civilians in Kabul city in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Taliban sources denied reports of unknown forces carrying out drone strikes targeting Al Qaeda and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, amid multiple unclaimed attacks targeting the latter. Anti-Taliban groups also remained active, inflicting a large number of casualties on the Taliban. In Pakistan, the Ittehad Musallah Islami Mujahideen (IMAM) and unidentified armed groups targeted state forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Baloch separatists engaged in armed clashes and explosive attacks, while IS militants targeted Christian community members in Balochistan. In India, Islamist militants clashed with security forces and targeted civilians in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), while Naxal-Maoist rebels engaged in armed clashes and civilian targeting in the Red Corridor. Meanwhile, power sector employees held nationwide demonstrations against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022. In Bangladesh, Rohingya community leaders were targeted in Chittagong division, while clashes broke out between rival political party factions in Barisal division.

In Afghanistan, IS continued a series of bomb attacks targeting Shiite civilians in Kabul last week, following a bomb attack on 5 August. At least two Shiite civilians were killed and dozens were wounded by an IS-planted bomb in the Pul-e-Sokhta area on 6 August, while five Shiite civilians were killed when their bus was hit by another bomb on 7 August. Later in the week, a prominent religious cleric and close supporter of the Taliban was also killed by IS at a seminary in Kabul city. ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker warned of increased violence in Kabul during the preceding four weeks.

Meanwhile, unknown forces reportedly carried out two drone strikes targeting militant groups in Ghazni and Kunar provinces last week. In Ghazni province, a drone reportedly targeted Al Qaeda militants in Andar district, while another strike in Watapoor district in Kunar province allegedly killed a TTP commander and his family. Taliban sources deny the occurrence of either attack (Hasht e Subh, 7 August 2022; Twitter @Natsecjeff, 10 August 2022). Elsewhere, five more TTP militants, including two key commanders, were killed in unclaimed explosive attacks in Paktika and Kunar provinces. The killing of the commanders coincided with peace talks between Pakistan and the TTP, which they had opposed (RFE/RL, 9 August 2022).

Separately, anti-Taliban groups continued to carry out attacks on Taliban targets last week. The National Resistance Front (NRF) attacked the Taliban in Baghlan, Parwan, Panjshir, Takhar, and Kapisa provinces last week, killing over 30 Taliban members. The National Liberation Front of Afghanistan (NLFA) carried out attacks in Andar district of Ghazni province and in Charikar district of Parwan, where the group claims to have targeted the Taliban intelligence headquarters with rockets (Hasht e Subh, 10 August 2022). NLFA attacks contribute to the 100% increase in violent events in Ghazni over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker, which also warned of increased violence in Parwan during the preceding four weeks.

In Pakistan, Islamist and unidentified armed groups and Baloch separatists conducted attacks against state forces and civilian targets at heightened levels across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces last week. ACLED's Conflict Change Map previously warned of increased violence in Pakistan during the past month.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the newly formed IMAM militant group conducted a suicide attack targeting a military convoy in North Waziristan district last week, killing at least four soldiers. Despite the ongoing ceasefire between the TTP and Pakistani state forces, militant attacks have increased in the province in recent weeks, with multiple attacks reported in July, including a previous attack by IMAM. Elsewhere, unidentified armed groups clashed with security forces and targeted civilians, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members, resulting in multiple fatalities. Violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is both common and highly volatile; it is considered an area of 'extreme risk' by ACLED's Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.

In Balochistan, Baloch separatists engaged in armed clashes with state forces and deployed grenades and remote explosives against both state forces and civilian targets last week. Multiple fatalities were reported across separate attacks involving Baloch separatist groups, including the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), in a number of districts. Meanwhile, IS militants fired at members of the Christian community in Mastung district, killing one person and injuring several others. This is the first reported IS attack targeting members of the Christian community since April.

In Sri Lanka, demonstrators held nationwide demonstrations on 9 August against ongoing state repression of anti-government protesters in the country, including the arrests of protest leaders and the imposition of emergency measures. The protests were held under the aegis of the Trade Union Coordinating Centre (TUCC), the Trade Unions and Mass Organisations (TUMO), and the United People's Movement to mark 9 August as a 'national day of protest' (The Morning, 8 August 2022). Meanwhile, anti-government protesters at the Galle Face protest site in Colombo vacated the site on 12 August after 125 days, dismantling their last tent from the site following a police order (Daily Mirror, 12 August 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, Islamist militants clashed with security forces and targeted civilians in J&K last week. Multiple fatalities were reported across separate attacks involving militant groups, including the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and the Resistance Front (RF). Meanwhile, unknown militants fired at non-local workers in Bandipora district, killing one worker.

In the Red Corridor, Naxal-Maoist rebels continued to engage in armed clashes and civilian targeting last week. In Chhattisgarh state, rebels clashed with police forces, and abducted and killed civilians on suspicion of being police informers. These trends contribute to the 122% increase in violent events in Chhattisgarh last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker also warned of increased violence in Chhattisgarh during the preceding four weeks.

In Madhya Pradesh, Communist Party of India (Maoist) rebels also shot and killed a person in Balaghat district over suspicion of being a police informer. The attack contributes to the 115% increase in weekly violent events in Madhya Pradesh in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year flagged by ACLED's Subnational Threat Tracker. The Subnational Tracker also warned of increased violence in Madhya Pradesh during the preceding four weeks.

Meanwhile, farmers and power sector employees under the aegis of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE) held nationwide demonstrations on 8 August against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022. The bill proposes changes in power distribution and tariffs while encouraging private players to compete in the power sector. This has generated opposition from farmers who fear it would end government subsidies and power sector employees who believe it could lead to job losses and the privatization of the public enterprise (The Hindu, 10 August 2022).

In Bangladesh, unidentified assailants shot and killed two Rohingya community leaders in Cox's Bazar district in Chittagong division last week, reportedly over an existing political dispute. Refugee camps in Cox's Bazar have been the sites of multiple violent incidents this year, including a recent attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) over control and dominance of the camps.

Meanwhile, multiple people were injured last week when clashes broke out between supporters of rival parties in Barisal division. In Pirojpur, members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) clashed during a BNP demonstration against fuel price hikes. In Gaurnadi upazila, BCL and Jubo League supporters vandalized the residences of Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chatra Dal (JCD) leaders over political enmity. The clashes contributed to the 100% increase in violent events in Barisal over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker.