Last week, in Asia, organized violence remained relatively static while demonstration events continued to decline. In South Asia, Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum escaped an assassination attempt by Taliban fighters in Balkh province while election violence continued in India and Bangladesh. In Southeast Asia, police reportedly killed 14 suspected New People’s Army members in the Philippines, though reports have emerged that those killed may have been unassociated farmers.
In Afghanistan, fighting continued between multiple armed groups and Afghan/NATO forces throughout the country. Despite ongoing peace talks, violence is expected to increase in the coming months as the Taliban launch their yearly spring offensive. Increased fighting has already been reported as of late, particularly in Helmand province, which was the most active province last week (TOLO News, 25 March 2019).
In the east, meanwhile, Islamic State (IS) militants clashed with Taliban fighters on at least two occasions in Chapa Dara district of Kunar province; while in Nangarhar, IS was targeted by state warplanes and ground assaults in Achin and Dih Bala. IS’ presence has been diminishing in Afghanistan since late July 2018 as a result of a concerted effort by both regime and NATO forces, as well as due to clashes with Taliban and other militant groups.
Elsewhere, Taliban fighters ambushed the Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum’s convoy on Saturday while it was travelling through the village of Timorak in Balkh province. While Dostum survived the assassination attempt, at least one of his bodyguards was reportedly killed in the attack. The convoy was attacked again once it reached Jowzjan (NY Times, 31 March 2019). This is the second attempt on Dostum’s life in less than a year: earlier, on 22 July 2018, an IS suicide bomber detonated their vest near the Kabul airport minutes after his convoy left the area. The Vice President has been accused of several atrocities against Taliban fighters in the past, as well as ordering the kidnapping and rape of a political rival (BBC, 30 March 2019).
In Pakistan, security forces reported killing six suspected Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants last week: four during a raid in Balochistan province and two others in an exchange of fire in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Meanwhile, unknown armed attackers continued to launch targeted attacks against security personnel and civilians. In Sindh, members of an unknown group fatally shot a man belonging to a Sunni Islamic missionary movement and a policeman in two separate incidents. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, an officer of the Education Department and a Khasadar paramilitary trooper were reportedly killed while several others were injured in a similar attack. In two other separate incidents, an off-duty Frontier Corps trooper and two activists of Awami National Party (ANP) were reportedly shot dead by unidentified assailants. Also, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three people including a soldier were reportedly killed and others injured in four incidents of explosions/remote violence last week.
In the contested Kashmir region, one Indian soldier was reportedly killed during cross border exchanges between Indian and Pakistani forces along the Line of Control (LoC) last week.
In India, security forces continue to conduct Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) in Jammu & Kashmir. Six militants were reportedly killed in clashes with state forces during CASOs in Shopian, Kupwara, and Budgam districts last week. In addition, suspected militants launched targeted attacks on four civilians, reportedly killing two. At least one of the victims was accused of being an army informant. The relatively high number of CASOs and militant deaths prompted rioting and protests in Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Kupwaras and Pulwama districts.
Police and paramilitary forces continued their anti-Naxal operations in an effort to improve security in the lead up to the upcoming general elections. Several Maoist rebel camps were raided last week, seizing ammunition and Maoist literature. Armed clashes between Maoist rebels and security forces were recorded in Maharashtra and Jharkhand as well as in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district where four rebels were reportedly killed in the encounter. Maoist cadres also blew up the residence of a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Bihar’s Gaya district and reiterated their demand for a boycott of the upcoming general elections.
In the meantime, election-related protests and incidents of rioting were reported from across the country; many of them motivated by inter-party disagreements over party candidate nominations. Also last week, in Karnataka, members of the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) and the Indian National Congress (INC) staged protests against raids conducted by the Income Tax Department at residences and offices of JD(S) leaders, calling the move “politically motivated” (Bangalore Mirror, 28 March 2019). In Tripura, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers launched several attacks on supporters of INC or Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M). Meanwhile in Arunachal Pradesh, one supporter of the National People’s Party (NPP) was attacked and beaten to death by a group of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) cadres.
In Bangladesh, violence in connection with the upazila (sub-district) chairman elections continued in the form of mob violence, targeted attacks, and occasional armed clashes between factions of the same party or supporters of rival parties. Six people were reportedly killed in election violence in Bangladesh last week. Several incidents of rioting were also reported on the occasion of the Independence Day celebrations on 26 March.
In Nepal, police arrested many leaders of Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal from across the country. The government’s decision to crackdown on the party came after the outfit was involved in criminal activities, including bombings and extortion drives. In other developments, students appearing for the Secondary Education Examinations held demonstrations in several parts of the country, expressing dissatisfaction over the postponement of their tests due to the leak of test questions.
In Sri Lanka, several groups took to the streets to protest. Their demands ranged from calling for authorities to provide sufficient supplies of water to addressing labor-related issues as well as showing their opposition to the proposed Counter Terrorism Bill. No violence or police intervention was reported during any of the recorded protest events.
With the results of the election in Thailand still unclear (World Politics Review, 1 April 2019), there were two events involving separatists in the deep south. In one, a bomb exploded in Narathiwat as military soldiers were passing by after which suspected separatists shot at the soldiers; a second bomb exploded as more officials arrived to investigate the first bombing. In a second incident, suspected separatists in Songkhla fired on two civilians, one a rubber trader.
In the Philippines, there were 12 reported fatalities from police drug raids. As the New People’s Army (NPA) marked their 50th anniversary (AFP, 27 March 2019), 14 suspected members were killed by the police in three locations across Negros Oriental. There are conflicting accounts as to whether those killed were in fact NPA members or were simply farmers (CNN, 31 March 2019).
Fighting continued in Rakhine state in Myanmar between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military, leading to two reported fatalities. Fighting also picked up in northern Shan state between the Myanmar military and a joint force of Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) and Palaung State Liberation Front/Ta’ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA). The SSPP/SSA-N also clashed with the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S).
Protests were held calling for amendments to the 2008 military-drafted constitution in Mon state as well as in Bago, Ayeyarwady, Mandalay, and Yangon regions. Further, a protest was held in front of Yangon City Hall against the restart of construction on the Myitsone dam. Many across the country have been organizing in opposition to the Chinese planned Myitsone dam. As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to visit China in the coming weeks (The Irrawaddy, 1 April 2019), the issue is likely to lead to more demonstrations.
In Indonesia, in South Sumatra, while returning home, a female priest from the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church was raped and killed while the nine-year-old girl accompanying her was severely injured. They both were found in a palm oil plantation the next day.
Protests were held in Kedah and Penang in Malaysia last week led by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) over a monument to Japan’s fallen soldiers in World War II. Protesters called for the monument to be removed.
No political violence or protest events were recorded last week for Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos.
© 2019 Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). All rights reserved.
2 April 2019