By Ajit Kumar Singh
On January 2, 2010, the Chhattisgarh Police announced a ‘new’ strategy to combat the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) menace by packing small areas with adequate Security Force (SF) personnel to force the Maoists to flee and develop it later. The State Director General of Police (DGP) Vishwa Ranjan said: “We have started a new form of joint operation in Rajnandgaon and northern Bastar. The objective is to pack a small area with adequate force, so that Naxals [Left Wing Extremists] are forced to flee the area. Once they have retreated we will develop the area. When that area has developed will move to another geographical area and develop it.”
The ‘new strategy’ displays a degree of ignorance, of Maoist intent, strategy and tactics, of the country’s and particularly of Chhattisgarh’s developmental profile, and of the quality and potential of governance in India and in the State, that is nothing short of astonishing. Even as articulated, the objective of the ‘strategy’ is no more than to force the Maoists to ‘flee’ the ‘small’ target areas saturated with Force. The DGP, however, fails to explain where the extremists would flee – presumably simply to other parts of the State, or across porous borders into contiguous territories in neighbouring States. This may not be particularly difficult, especially if the areas targeted are suitably ‘small’ in terms of Force availability – but it is far from clear what this ‘strategy’ could achieve. Holding territory is no part of current Maoist strategy and, confronted with overwhelming – or even adequate – Force, they would quickly withdraw to create new foci of violence that would demand a diversion of Force. Assuming – quite unrealistically – that the DGP is able to hold the course in his ‘small area’ and is also magically (it would take nothing less than magic) able to ‘develop’ these areas, are we to understand that when he ‘moves to another geographical area’, the Maoists will be so daunted by the ‘development’ that they will abandon all hope of mobilisation there? The Maoists are, today, successfully targeting the underbelly – and every system has one – of the most affluent States in India. Are we to believe that the miracle of development in the DGP’s ‘small area’ will have wiped every last tear from every last eye, leaving no conceivable room for extremist recruitment, or that the Maoists will not be able to redirect their existing forces from the neighbourhood, once the DGP and his men have ‘move on’ to ‘another geographical area’? Crucially, what is Chhattisgarh’s current record of ‘development’ in areas where the Maoists have no significant presence of activity? If the state lacks the capacity, the competence and the integrity to develop these areas, how and by what agency is the marvellous transformation of the DGP’s ‘small area’ to be secured? It is not clear, moreover, how (and whether) this strategy is to be reconciled with the Centre’s oft-announced objective of launching ‘coordinated and comprehensive’ operations across the five worst affected States in the country.
The likelihood, of course, is that this is just another grand pronouncement in the succession of flip-flops the State has spun out as an excuse for its ‘strategy’ against LWE. It s useful, in this sequence, to recall that, on February 12, 2009, Chief Minister Raman Singh was offering talks to the Maoists. Three months later, on May 9, his Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar ruled out negotiations with the LWEs. On October 4, the Chief Minister himself retracted and said that his Government would neutralise the Maoists and announced that ‘fresh operations’ against them would commence on November 1, 2009. Through the year, there have been several and contradictory declarations at different levels in the State hierarchy, alternately threatening dire actions against the Maoists, or seeking ‘peaceful resolution’ through negotiations, or varying ‘political’ and ‘developmental’ solutions. Through 2009, moreover, operations have secured uncertain gains, while the Maoists have inflicted dramatic costs on the State, even as they have systematically augmented their capacities and presence across its territories.
After a significant fall in the number of fatalities (168) in the year 2008 as compared to the preceding year (350), Chhattisgarh witnessed a spurt in killings once again, with 345 fatalities in 2009, including , 137 extremists, 121 Security Forces (SFs) and 87 civilians, according to the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) Database. With this performance, Chhattisgarh retained the ‘distinction’ of being the worst Maoist-affected State in the country For the fourth consecutive year. Fatalities in all three categories – civilians, SFs and extremists – nearly or more than doubled between 2008 and 2009.
Chhattisgarh: LWE insurgency related fatalities- 2005-2009 (SATP)
Source: ICM Database
Chhattisgarh: LWE insurgency related fatalities- 2001-2008 (MHA)
Source: Annual Report 2004-2005 & 2008-2009, Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), Government of India.
If official data is taken into account, the situation may be worse. According to data released by the Chhattisgarh Police, 235 persons fell victim to CPI-Maoist violence between January 1 and November 30, 2009. They include 99 Policemen, two undercover Policemen, 21 Special Police Officers (SPOs), 11 Government officials, and 102 ordinary citizens. The number of Maoists killed was not indicated.
ICM data, based on open source reportage, meanwhile, recorded a total of just 160 incidents involving Maoists in 2009. 97 of these were incidents of killing, including 32 major incidents (three or more fatalities). The 40,000-square kilometres of Bastar region, comprising of the Districts of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Dhamtari and Kanker, remained the most violent theatres, accounting for 258 fatalities in a total of 75 incidents of killing. While Dantewada, with 145 fatalities, witnessed the highest number of killings among the Maoists (82) and SF personnel (46), Bijapur (78 fatalities) recorded largest number civilians killed (31).
The ICM Database indicates increasing Maoist action against civilians, though this is still to approach the peak of 189 civilian fatalities in 2006, largely the consequence of the disastrous Salwa Judum experiment. Nevertheless, the figure had gradually declined to 35 in 2008, to spurt up to at least 87 in 2009. One of the principal reasons for this is that the Maoists are increasingly convinced that civilians are acting as Police informers. Brutal killings are intended to discourage such ‘cooperation’ with the State, even as they intimidate large populations into greater compliance with Maoist diktats. Despite sustained civilian targeting by the Maoists, however, DGP Vishwa Ranjan contended, “Police are getting good support from the local population in the drive against insurgents as the people are with Maoists only because of fear, not because of the heart.” Notably, on September 4, bodies of four villagers killed by CPI-Maoist cadres were recovered from a forest in the Aaded village of Bijapur District. The Superintendent of Police, Avinash Mohanty, had then stated, “Police had arrested two top Maoists from this area two months ago. The rebels suspected that the four were responsible for tipping the Police off, which led to the arrests.”
Meanwhile, DGP Vishwa Ranjan, quoting a Union Home Ministry report, revealed that, among the worst Naxal-infested States, the maximum number of Maoists was killed in Chhattisgarh. The lowest number of Naxal-related incidents over the past year was also recorded in this State. The DGP disclosed that 107 Naxalites were killed during 217 encounters that took place between SF personnel and Naxalites in various parts of the State in 2009. He also said: “The figure could be much more as the Police officially take down the number on the basis of dead bodies found. Since the extremists carry away the dead bodies, Police suspect that the number will be more. Even the Naxal literatures underline heavy casualties in Chhattisgarh.”
In the most successful offensive, on September 18-19, a joint force of the Combined Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and the Chhattisgarh Police, in an Operation that lasted 48 hours, killed at least 24 CPI-Maoist cadres in the Dantewada District. An Assistant Commandant of the CoBRA Force, Manoranjan Singh, had been killed in the attack launched by the SFs in the night of September 17. On September 19, SF personnel recovered the bodies of five of their missing comrades, including Assistant Commandant Rakesh Chaurasia.
The Police also arrested at least 99 Maoists, including two ‘commanders’, in a total of 20 incidents of arrest, according to the ICM-SATP Database. DGP Vishwa Ranjan disclosed that 177 active Naxalite cadres and 445 Sangham members (village-level supporters) were arrested in 2009.
DGP Vishwa Ranjan claimed, “Without an urban base, the Maoists can’t operate an underground movement in the forests. They rely on logistics support from their urban network. They (the Maoists) can’t survive without an urban base. Police in Chhattisgarh have cracked down hard on rebels’ urban network throughout 2009, and the Maoists have now been put under severe Police pressure in the State.”
Despite these apparent setbacks, the Maoists sustained their operations – some of them devastating – against the State machinery. The extremists killed 137 SF personnel in landmine explosions, ambushes and gun battles. In the most gruesome attack, in three interlinked incidents at Madanwada, Khoregaon and Sitagaon under the Manpur Police Station in the Rajnandgaon District on July 12, the Maoists killed a total of 29 Policemen, including Superintendent of Police, Vinod Choubey – the highest ranking officer to be killed by the Maoists in the State till date. On August 11, challenging the SFs’ firepower, the Maoists engaged in a 20-hour long encounter in the Dantewada District. Though six CPI-Maoist cadres were killed and there were no casualties among the SFs, the sheer protraction of the encounter suggests that, despite the Police Forces recovering huge caches of arms and ammunition on at least eight occasions, the Maoists retain the ‘military capability’ to challenge state Forces. In one incident of recovery, five tons of explosives and ammunition, including 17,500 rounds of rifle ammunition and 1,550 other rounds, were recovered by the Police from a truck during a search operation at a check post on the Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand border in Jashpur District, on March 17, 2009.
Continuing Maoist successes undermined SF morale. On July 15, 2009, 29 Policemen were suspended for refusing Jungle Warfare training. Again, on August 14, 15 Policemen were suspended in Chhattisgarh after they refused to take part in anti-Maoist operations. On August 26, 13 Police constables, who had completed a specialised training course at the Counter-Insurgency Training and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) at Kanker in Bastar, were dismissed for their refusal to join counter-insurgency operations.
Maoist operations continued to target the State’s economy, with at least 13 incidents of attack on economic establishments (Government, Public and Private) reported in 2009, while the Maoists called for a bandh (general shut down) on at least two occasions. “Under Narayanpur District around 77 concrete buildings were either damaged or demolished,” H. R. Gourela, Deputy Commissioner of the Scheduled Tribe Welfare and Development Department of Narayanpur District, disclosed on October 9, 2009. Further, on November 7, Education Department officials stated that, over the preceding two years, the Maoists had set ablaze 80 school buildings in the Dantewada and Bijapur Districts. Police said they have recovered leaflets from Maoist dominated areas in recent months in which the insurgents said they were targeting school and hospital buildings in the Bastar region as these provided shelter to SF personnel during anti-Maoist operations.
Endemic Maoist extortion continued through 2009. Explaining the contours of the Maoist extortion racket, Chhattisgarh DGP stated, “The Maoists annually extort up to INR 2,000 crore (INR 20 billion) across India, mostly targeting iron and coal mining companies, infrastructure project contractors and tendu patta (leaves of the Diospyros Melonoxylon plant) businessmen. This is a ‘guesstimate’ based on cash books and other vital papers recovered by Police from Maoists in recent months.” In a dramatic incident of loot and extortion, the Naxalites stopped the construction work on the four-lane road between Nagpur (Maharashtra) and Durg (Chhattisgarh) on the National Highway (NH) No. 6 near Rajnandgaon District in Chhattisgarh, demanding a ’levy’ from the construction company, Ashoka Buildcons, in November 2009. It was for the first time the insurgents targeted the road construction work on the NH.
On May 23, Mahesh Gagda, a Member of the State Legislative Assembly from the Maoist-affected Bijapur constituency had alleged, “Maoists are forcibly picking up boys and girls from their houses and schools in the interiors to use them as shields in the war against (Security) Forces… Kids in Bijapur are carrying arms, even AK-47s.” Earlier on January 14, the Chhattisgarh Police had claimed that CPI-Maoist cadres were recruiting minor girls as part of a stepped-up drive to get members for the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangh, the women’s wing of the CPI-Maoist. The DGP had then stated: “Some 30 percent or 15,000 of a total of 50,000 armed rebels, are female insurgents who actively participate in carrying out major strikes against civilians and Police Forces.” According to an October 15-16 report, the Police claimed that the forested Bastar region was home to nearly 10,000 Maoist insurgents, who had access to rocket launchers and mortars apart from smaller firearms.
Despite widespread Maoist violence, around 51 per cent of the electorate in Chhattisgarh exercised their franchise in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) elections on April 16. Of the 11 Lok Sabha constituencies in Chhattisgarh. Durg, Korba and Raigarh recorded the highest average of 55 per cent each, followed by Bilaspur (53, Rajnandgaon (52), Mahasamund (51) and Jangir (50). Bastar recorded a 46 per cent turnout, while Surguja recorded the lowest, at 45 per cent. Only 47 per cent of votes were polled in capital Raipur.
Several initiatives to ‘beef up’ anti-Maoist measures were announced through 2009. On January 10, 2009, an Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) was established to tackle the Maoist insurgency during any emergency. The SF setup in Chhattisgarh was also strengthened with the deployment of two CoBRA battalions. The State is also in the process of setting up anti-terrorist control rooms in 18 Districts, to deal with possible Maoist attacks. In February 2008, a Unified Command Structure (UCS) to coordinate the activities of the State and Central Para Military Forces (CPMFs) was put in place in Chhattisgarh under the leadership of the Chief Minister. Coordination between Chhattisgarh and neighbouring States affected by LWE activities – such as Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra – has increased, impacting on the free movement of Maoists across State borders. According to a March 21 report, Police identified 33 villages on the Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border as being highly Maoist-affected. A decision was taken in a co-ordination meeting of the Superintendent of Police of the Maoist affected Districts of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh at Kothagudem in the Khammam District of Andhra Pradesh, to focus on these ‘sensitive’ border villages. While, 20 of the villages were identified in Khammam District in Andhra Pradesh, 13 were located in the Dantewada and Bijapur Districts of Chhattisgarh.
The Chhattisgarh Government is also considering a proposal to divide the State into three administrative zones for transfer and posting purposes, and to make three-year postings in each of these mandatory for all officers and employees. This proposal is intended to take care of the resistance among Police and administrative officers to being transferred to Maoist-affected areas.
The State Government allocated INR 9.41 billion, a hike of 22 per cent from the 2008 allocation, for Police modernization. On February 9, 2009, Chief Minister Raman Singh, after presenting the budget in the State Legislative Assembly, declared that his Government was “committed to combat Maoist or Naxalite violence. The steep budgetary hike of 22 per cent for the Police is made with special focus on security related infrastructure needs in the worst affected Districts of Bijapur and Dantewada.” The State Government claimed that Police strength at each outpost would go up to 27, as against the earlier figure of just eight, and at Police Stations the number would touch 65, as against the existing provision of 32. On October 19, in a bid to strengthen the intelligence network in insurgency-affected regions, the Chhattisgarh Government decided to enlist Gram Chowkidars (village guards) as informers. The Gram Chowkidars in each village would be given a register in which they would be required to note details of outsiders visiting the village, and of various incidents in the region, including theft and fraud. The Chowkidars would be required to submit the register to the nearest Police Station on a weekly basis.
On April 25, 2009, the Chhattisgarh Government had announced the extension of the ban on the CPI-Maoist and six of its front organisations for another year under Sub-section 1 of section 3 of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005. In a notification issued by the Home Department, the ban on the CPI-Maoist and its six affiliates – the Dandakaranya Adivasi Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangh, Krantikari Adivasi Balak Sangh, Krantikari Kisan Committee, Mahila Mukti Manch and Janathana Sarkar – was extended till April 12, 2010. The CPI-Maoist was first banned in the State in April 2006.
These initiatives, however, no more than scratch at the surface of the problem. Given existing numerical and qualitative Force capacities in the State, the existing scenario remains worrisome. On November 21, 2009, Chief Minister Raman Singh had conceded that the Chhattisgarh Police was not prepared to face the Maoist guerrilla war. Nevertheless, a major offensive codenamed Operation Green Hunt has been initiated against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh. State Police and Central Paramilitary Forces have fitfully engaged in joint operations as well, and various public pronouncements suggest that these are to intensify over time. Regrettably, as has been noted earlier, “when no coherent objectives are defined, the outcome is irrelevant”. Current capacities and ‘strategies’ in Chhattisgarh provide little grounds for optimism in the protracted and bloody contestation with the Maoists.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 4-10, 2010
Security Force Personnel
Jammu and Kashmir
Pakistan occupied Kashmir
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Country’s land can’t be used for terrorism in another country, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on January 5, said that she would not invite trouble for the country by allowing militants and terrorists to use Bangladesh for carrying out terrorism in another country: “They [militants and terrorists] will use the land of Bangladesh to conduct their terrorism in another country and we will create enmity by harbouring them — this cannot be… I know there are risks. I also have life threat but for the sake of the country and its sovereignty, I will not allow that.” Prime Minister Hasina also stated that her Government would not allow militants to establish their supremacy in the country. “The previous Government failed to figure out the devastating outcome of encouraging such dangerous elements. They did not cast their eyes far into the future,” she added. Daily Star, January 6, 2010.
CRPF killed 190 militants including Naxalites and lost 70 personnel in 2009: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) killed 190 militants and Naxalites (Left Wing Extremists) besides arresting 2,054, in the year 2009. The Force lost 70 of its personnel. A massive recovery of 48,000 rounds of ammunition was made in 293 encounters undertaken by the CRPF along with other Security Forces. “Apart from this, about 2,000 kilograms of explosives and 685 arms were also recovered. Seventy-four militants were killed in Jammu and Kashmir while in Assam, 58 militants were killed,” the CRPF spokesperson, Ajay Chaturvedi, disclosed in a statement on January 8. He said, in Left Wing Extremism areas, 35 Naxalites were killed in Chhattisgarh and 15 in Jharkhand. Orissa accounted for five kills and West Bengal three during the said period. “Two hundred and twelve militants and Naxalites had also surrendered. Maximum 118 militants had surrendered in Tripura, while in Assam 65 gave up arms, besides seven in J&K and one in Arunachal Pradesh… Ten Naxalites in Chhattisgarh and 11 in Maharashtra were also in the surrendered list,” the official said. Further, in Chhattisgarh, 363 Naxalites had been arrested, in West Bengal 349, while in Jharkhand and Orissa the numbers were 180 and 136, respectively. In Maharashtra, 120 Naxals were arrested while in Madhya Pradesh 63 suspects were arrested. Nearly 639 CRPF personnel were injured during the same period, while Naxals looted 20 arms and 1,954 rounds of ammunition from the Force. PTI, January 9, 2010.
Maximum Naxal casualties in Chhattisgarh: Quoting a Union Home Ministry report, Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) Vishwa Ranjan said that, among the worst Naxal (Left Wing Extremism)-infested states, the maximum number of Naxalites was killed in Chhattisgarh. The minimum number of Naxalite-related incidents had taken place in the State in the preceding year, he added. Ranjan said 217 encounters took place between Security Force (SF) personnel and Naxalites in various parts of the State in 2009. During the encounters, 107 Naxalites were gunned down, the DGP said. The figure could be much more as the Police officially take down the number on the basis of bodies found. Since the rebels carry away many bodies, Police suspect that the number will be higher. “Even the Naxal literature underlines heavy casualties in Chhattisgarh,” Ranjan added. Referring to the operation against the Naxalites, Ranjan said the a by the Chhattisgarh Police was on, while joint operations with Central Forces would be launched soon. “We are getting support from the villagers to the Centre in our operation against the Naxalites,” he added. The Central Government had provided adequate forces for the operation against the ultras, while the assistance would continue in future as well, Ranjan said, adding that, after the inhuman acts of the Naxalites, villagers in the interior areas of the Red Zone were helping the personnel. The Police Chief said the urban network of the Naxalites was under a scanner and Police were keeping a close vigil, since, without an urban base, the Naxals cannot operate an underground movement in the forests. Business Standard, January 9, 2010.
Dawood Ibrahim has ‘strategic alliance’ with ISI, indicates US Congressional report: A US Congressional report released on January 5 identified Dawood Ibrahim’s D-company as a “5,000-member criminal syndicate operating mostly in Pakistan, India, and the United Arab Emirates,” which has a “strategic alliance” with the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, and has “forged relationships with Islamists, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and al Qaeda.” The report, prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the research wing of Congress, is aimed at priming US lawmakers on various issues, and has no immediate policy implications. The US Department of Treasury has already designated Ibrahim as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in 2006 and former President Bush designated him, as well as his D-Company, as a Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The report also notes that some Press accounts have reported that Ibrahim’s network might have provided a boat to the 10 LeT militants who carried out the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and records that the “US Government contends that D-Company has found common cause with al Qaeda and shares its smuggling routes with that terrorist group.” Times of India, January 7, 2010.
Indian Mujahideen planning 9/11-type attack, warn intelligence agencies: According to intelligence agencies, a 9/11-type terrorist attack, using hijacked aeroplanes, stares India in the face, with an Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist having acquired pilot training, waiting to strike. Intelligence Bureau (IB) sources said that Shahzad Ahmed alias Pappu, one of the key accused in the September 13, 2008, Delhi bomb blasts case, learnt to fly planes in Bangalore and could now be planning to execute an airborne terror strike. A dozen other trained IM terrorists are also at large and, together with Shahzad, pose a big security threat. Shahzad underwent pilot training just before the Delhi bomb blasts and has been absconding since the Batla House encounter in Delhi on September 19, 2008. The IB has raised the alert levels for an airborne terrorist attack and is trying to unravel Shahzad’s plans.
Meanwhile, according to intelligence inputs, the Lashkar e Toiba (LeT) and IM, along with the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), could attempt to kidnap key political leaders, target helicopters carrying VIPs, strike public functions with explosives-laden trucks and hire or hijack aircraft or helicopters to carry out 9/11-type attacks. India Today, January 8, 2010.
Maoists ready to reconsider their ‘autonomous states’: Speaking at the ongoing Central Committee (CC) meeting at the party headquarters in Koteshwor on January 4, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (Unified CPN-Maoist) CC members said that federalism should be discussed in detail as it is a very sensitive subject. The Maoist spokesperson Dinanath Sharma said that the party could rethink its earlier decision to announce the ‘autonomous states’ by holding discussion with other political parties. “Our party is ready to reconsider about the autonomous States being based on ethnicity, sex, region and geography,” added Sharma.
Further, the Unified CPN-M decided to focus the fourth phase of their nationwide agitation “to protect national sovereignty and integrity” upon reaching the conclusion that it is in “serious danger” and endorsed the political report tabled by party ‘chairman’ Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda at the Central Committee (CC) meeting of the party that concluded in the party headquarters at Paris Danda in Koteshwor on January 5.
Meanwhile, Prachanda warned that his party would launch a ‘people’s revolt’ if the country does not get a new constitution on time and the peace process gets derailed. Addressing a programme organised by local civil society in Biratnagar in the afternoon of January 8, Prachanda said the Nepali people would take to the streets if a scenario, which might derail the peace process and scuttle the Constitution-making drive, is created in the country. He added that the parties should be careful not to invite such a scenario. Prachanda also raised objection to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s statement on January 7 that the Maoists would face the fate of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka if they continued to engage in violence and intimidation. Also, the CPN-Maoist, led by Matrika Yadav, a breakaway faction of the Unified CPN-Maoist, claimed on January 8 that the disqualified combatants who were discharged from the UN-monitored cantonments have joined the party. Nepal News; eKantipur, January 5-9, 2010.
49 militants and 17 civilians among 69 persons killed during the week in FATA: A US drone strike on January 9 killed at least four terrorists in the North Waziristan Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), security and intelligence officials said.
Eight persons were killed and 11 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of the headquarters of the militant outfit Ansar-ul-Islam (AI) in the Tirah area of Khyber Agency on January 8. Sources said that a meeting of the AI Shura (central committee) was in progress when the suicide bomber struck. An AI spokesman said the suicide bomber blew himself up when he was stopped from entering the gate. He said the attacker’s target was the AI Shura, but he failed, as he was not allowed to enter. He said AI ‘chief’ Qazi Mehboobul Haq was also at the madrassa (seminary) when the attack occurred. He said the head of the bomber was recovered by the volunteers, and he was identified as a member of the Qambarkhel tribe who lived in Bara. He said the bomber was a member of a rival militant outfit, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI).
Six militants were killed and three others injured in air strikes on suspected militant hideouts in upper Orakzai Agency. In addition, four Taliban militants were killed and two injured when drones fired two missiles, one at a car and the other at a house, in Palali village in the Tappi area of North Waziristan Agency.
At least 10 Taliban militants were killed and several were injured as helicopter gunships bombed militant’s hideouts in the Mamonzai, Ghaljo and Dabori areas of Orakzai Agency on January 7.
13 persons were killed when three US drones targeted a house in Sumzalai, 50 kilometres west of Miranshah, in the Dattakhel tehsil (revenue unit) of North Waziristan Agency on January 6. Two of the three missiles fired hit the house in Sumzalai at around 4 pm (PST), killing seven persons, while the third missile struck the same house at around 4:50 pm, killing six people. Separately, five militants were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in, exploded in the Darr village of Kurram Agency in the night of January 6.
The Security Forces (SFs) killed three Taliban militants in the continuing operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation) when they tried to attack SFs at the Pungai checkpost in the South Waziristan Agency on January 5.
The SFs neutralised two militant hideouts on January 4, killing seven Taliban militants and arresting two others in Operation Sherdil (Lion Heart) in the Bajaur Agency. Sources said that the SFs targeted Taliban hideouts in the Jani Shah area of Mamoond tehsil (administrative division), killing four militants. Another three terrorists were killed in Laywai area, as the bomb they were manufacturing exploded in their hands. The SFs also arrested two militants in the Khar and Laghrai areas. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, January 5-11, 2010.
15 militants and one SF among 16 persons killed during the week in NWFP: Four Taliban militants were killed and an equal number of them were arrested by the Security Forces (SFs) in different parts of Swat and Malakand in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) during Operation Rah-e-Rast (Path to Truth) on January 7. An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Press Release stated that SFs conducted search operations in Pul Bela near Bahrain, Kuz Bama Khela, Mera Mai, Muz Durshkhela, Langar, Mashkomai and Chiakolai, and killed four militants in the gun battle. The SFs also conducted search operations at Panr, Allahabad, Titawali, Dakorak, and Chbaghand Fazagat.
The SFs killed seven militants in separate encounters in the Kabal area of Swat District on January 6. The sources said SFs claimed to have killed three militants in an exchange of fire in the Kokaray area.
The SFs killed three Taliban militants in the continuing Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation) at Mora Kandao in the Swat District on January 5. The ISPR said that one trooper was also injured in the clash. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, January 5-11, 2010.
80 per cent of Mohmand Agency cleared, say Army sources: Security Forces (SFs) on January 5 said they flushed out most of the militants from the Mohmand tribal region of Mohmand Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “Mohmand is a big agency and up till now 80 per cent of the area has been cleared,” commander of the Mohmand Operation, Colonel Saifullah, said. Around 350 militants were killed while 300 others were severely injured, he added. Regarding the SFs causalities, he said around 65 soldiers had been martyred in 2008 and 2009. He said resistance was still being faced in the Safi tehsil (revenue unit) and Khwazai tehsil but now the SFs were shifting towards the next phase that entailed bringing stability to the area. Colonel Saifullah did not give any tentative date for wrapping up the operation, but said the Army wants to wind it up as soon as possible. Due to normalisation of the situation, schools and some bazaars had opened in the cleared areas and Government offices also started their operations. He also said that operations near the Afghanistan border were necessary as militants take refuge in the region. He, however, denied reports of NATO penetrating Mohmand and other tribal areas, and said Pakistan’s borders were being tightly guarded. Dawn, January 6, 2009.
‘Swat Taliban have fled to Karachi, South Waziristan’, says Operation Commander Major General Ashfaq Nadeem: A large number of Taliban militants in the Swat area of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) have fled to Karachi and South Waziristan Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to escape Operation Sherdil (Lion Heart) launched by the Army in the Malakand Division. “I think these militants have fled to Karachi and Waziristan,” Operation Commander Major General Ashfaq Nadeem told Daily Times in an interview. Nadeem said intelligence agencies were on the hunt for these suspected militants in Karachi and some of them had already been arrested. “It is because Karachi is a big city and it is not easy to find someone so easily. Secondly, you can find shelter among fellow Pashtuns who number in tens of thousands,” said a man in Matta tehsil (revenue unit), whose militant relative was traced in Karachi. Security officials in Peshawar said the Swat Taliban, loyal to Fazlullah, were being hunted in Karachi where they might set up a command and control structure to gain a foothold in the country’s financial hub. “Some signs of the Swat Taliban have already been seen in Karachi and the security personnel are working on these leads to arrest them,” intelligence officials added. Daily Times, January 9, 2010.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announces relief package for NWFP and FATA: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on January 7 unveiled a relief package for militancy-affected areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), announcing tax concessions, rebates in duties and relief in utility bills – in addition to allocating an additional one per cent share to the Province from the Federal Divisible. Under the relief package, the Province would be divided into three categories: ‘the worst affected’, ‘affected’ and ‘least affected’ areas. Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency, Khyber Agency, Orakzai Agency, Kurram Agency, South Waziristan and North Waziristan from FATA; Malakand, Swat, Buner, Shangla, and Upper and Lower Dir from FATA; and Hangu, Bannu, Tank, Kohat and Chitral, from settled areas, have been categorised as the worst affected areas. The Federal Government announced an exemption from withholding income tax for areas falling in ‘the worst affected’ and ‘affected’ categories until June 30, 2011. Also, areas in the first category have been given total exemption from Sales Tax and Federal Excise Duty on commodities manufactured in these areas between January 1 and June 30. Areas falling under category two would be given a 50 percent concession in these taxes. Gilani announced that no penalty or surcharge would be payable by registered taxpayers from areas in the first and second category if they paid the principal amount of outstanding customs duties, sales tax, federal excise duty and income tax by June 30. Daily Times, January 8, 2010.
Army engineers clear 450 square kilometres of LTTE mined areas: Sri Lanka Army’s de-mining Field Engineer troops had cleared a total land extent of 450.41 square kilometres (450,402,744 square metres) of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) buried explosive devices, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines and Un-Exploded Ordnance (UXOs) from northern and eastern Districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, till January 4, since the year 2002. In addition, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are separately engaged in de-mining work in the same Districts. The extent of area de-mined by those NGO de-miners has not been included in the geographical extent figure given above. At present, troops are continuing their de-mining work in Vedithalattivu (Mannar), Mankulam (Kilinochchi) and Thunukkai-Amathipuram (Mullaitivu) areas. Initial surveys have confirmed that about 600 square kilometres area still remains to be cleared of mines and UXOs. Sri Lanka Army, January 5, 2010.
Ajit Kumar Singh is a Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management, and which publishes the “South Asia Intelligence Review” of the South Asia Terrorism Portal