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CrisisWatch Database

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Sri Lanka

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
First parliamentary steering committee meeting overseeing drafting of new constitution held 5 April, chaired by PM Wickremesinghe. President Sirisena continued moves to strengthen hold over Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) including appointing two additional deputy ministers and new state minister 6 April and new party organisers 28 April. Constitutional council 18 April voted to appoint Senior Deputy Inspector of Police Pujith Jayasundara as new inspector general, who promised strengthened investigations into alleged crimes under previous govt. More than a dozen ex-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) combatants and other Tamils arrested throughout month following late March discovery of hidden explosives in Jaffna; seizure of some suspects in unmarked white vans raised fears of abductions. District-level Tamil govt officials 10 April reportedly attacked by Sinhalese fisherman in Mullaitivu and subsequently detained by Sinhalese troops. Amid worsening economic situation, government 29 April finalised agreement with IMF for $1.5bn three year financial support; govt 15 April confirmed VAT increase to take effect 2 May. During three-day visit to Beijing, PM announced 7 April decision to restart $1.4bn Chinese-funded and owned “Colombo Port City” project, and expansion of other Rajapaksa-era Chinese-led projects previously criticised by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe. U.S. State Dept’s Country Report on Human Rights in 2015, released 13 April, reported harassment of activists, journalists and alleged sympathisers of the LTTE, in addition to arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, and rape committed by police and security forces.

Pakistan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Punjab police 9 April launched security operation against Chotoo criminal gang in southern Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan districts; gang 13 April killed six police, took 24 hostage. Military 16 April announced it had taken over operation, launched airstrikes; gang leader and twelve others surrendered 20 April, released hostages. Belying official claims of success of ongoing paramilitary-led Rangers operation in Karachi, seven police protecting polio workers shot dead in two attacks in city 20 April; five people also killed early April in drive-by shootings. Two police, two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi killed 2 April in Karachi police raid. Four killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including one police 7 April in unclaimed IED blast, Awami National Party leader 10 April in Pakistani Taliban attack, one police 12 April in unclaimed shooting. In other militant attacks, bomb 5 April derailed Lahore-Quetta train, killing one; guard of Bilal Afridi, leader of pro-govt armed group in Khyber Agency, killed 18 April intercepting suicide attack. Security forces reportedly killed 34 members of United Baloch Army 9 April in Kalat district. Frontier Corps 6 April announced arrest of alleged Afghan intelligence operative in Balochistan. Leaked records of offshore holdings implicating over 200 nationals including family of PM Sharif early April further undermined legitimacy of govt.

Nepal

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Talks between mainstream and dissenting Madhesi parties on constitutional amendments remain stalled amid increasing indications that govt plans to begin implementing new constitution. Govt 8 April formed two committees to prepare transitional arrangements for new federal structure including identifying new provincial capitals; Madhesi parties opposed decision pointing to outstanding disputes over boundaries; opposition Nepali Congress demanded formation of new political mechanism to address boundary demarcation. PM KP Oli instructed ruling UML party leaders to prepare for local elections; govt seeking to hold initial phase of polls in earthquake-affected areas. Several Madhesi parties preoccupied by preparations for internal conventions which must be held by June according to Election Commission. Some Madhesi and smaller Janajati parties announced new alliance 18 April to increase pressure on govt to address demands of marginalised communities; alliance hamstrung by tactical disagreements over prioritising Kathmandu-centric or district-level protests. Two transitional justice mechanisms mid-April began 60-day complaint registration process for victims of 1996-2006 armed conflict; 2,344 cases received by Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and 604 cases received by commission investigating disappearances as of 28 April. PM Oli accused of attempted intimidation for reprimanding National Human Rights Commission officers 3 April after they criticised govt activities.

Kashmir

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Tensions between India and Pakistan increased following Pakistan’s 24 March arrest of Indian national accused of being spy for Indian intelligence Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Balochistan’s Frontier Corps commander 2 April said spy’s activities demonstrated Balochistan’s armed movement was “Indian state sponsored”. Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi 7 April said India-Pakistan dialogue process suspended. Indian and Pakistani FMs met on sidelines of Heart of Asia regional summit in New Delhi 26 April, first meeting between the two since Jan militant attack on Indian airbase in Pathankot in Punjab near Pakistani border; no significant progress reported. Indian National Investigation Agency director general 1 April said Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team, which arrived in India late March to investigate Pathankot attack, was given “concrete evidence” of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed involvement in attack. Pakistan military 9 April said Indian forces “resorted to heavy unprovoked firing and shelling” across Line of Control. Clashes between Indian soldiers and insurgents continued. Four killed in violent clashes between protestors and Indian police in areas of Indian-administered Kashmir including Handwara and Srinagar 12 April, following allegations that Indian soldier molested girl; authorities imposed curfews. Anti-India protests broke out 7 April in Shopian after two suspected insurgents killed in gun battle.

Bangladesh

  |  2 May 2016

Deteriorated

Several brutal murders during month underscored growing power and impunity of violent extremist groups. Law student and secular blogger Nazimuddin Samad hacked to death in Dhaka 6 April; al-Qaeda-linked Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal 10 April called on secular bloggers to “control” their writing, strongly criticised those writing against “religious establishment”. In 14 April address to party leaders and workers PM Hasina condemned writing that “hurt religious sentiments” as “unacceptable”, however stressed Islam does not allow individuals to murder alleged blasphemers. Jagannath University students 7 April protested over govt inaction following Samad’s killing. University professor Rezaul Karim Siddiquee hacked to death NW of Dhaka 23 April; Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility. Two people including LGBT magazine editor and activist Xulhaz Mannan hacked to death in Dhaka 25 April; govt blamed opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam 26 April claimed responsibility. Hindu man hacked to death in Tangail 30 April; IS claimed responsibility, authorities 1 May detained secretary of local JeI group, local BNP activist and local madrasa over killing. Violent clashes around second phase of local elections continued early-April, including between rival supporters of Awami League (AL) and between supporters of AL and BNP; more than 30 party activists reported killed. BNP leader Khaleda Zia, granted bail 5 April “considering her age and physical condition”, following 30 March arrest warrant over alleged role in firebomb attack during Jan 2015 opposition blockade. Senior police official 17 April said daily Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman (detained in 2013 on charges of sedition, defamation and corruption) accused of plotting to abduct and murder PM Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy.

Afghanistan

  |  2 May 2016

Deteriorated
Taliban 12 April launched start of spring offensive “Operation Omeri”, with clashes throughout month further dimming hope of Taliban participation in peace process and contributing to increasingly strained relations between Kabul and Islamabad. In deadliest insurgent attack on Kabul since 2001, Taliban 19 April detonated car bomb and launched gun attack on National Directorate of Security office killing 64; CEO Abdullah Abdullah postponed Pakistan trip following attack. U.S. special envoy 10 April encouraged Pakistan to use influence to bring Taliban to negotiations. Govt 11 April said Taliban should join peace talks or face military action by Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) states; 28 April criticised Pakistan for reportedly allowing Taliban delegation visit to Islamabad. Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) insurgent group 2 April said govt elements trying to sabotage peace process, rejected allegations that its talks with High Peace Council (HPC) were aimed at obtaining ministries; 5 April dropped precondition of troop withdrawal, 18 April insisted on removal of leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s name from UN and U.S. blacklists. President Ghani 4 April said govt facing threats from al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), Taliban; acting defence minister warned al-Qaeda expanding. Taliban resumed attacks on police check points in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area, Baghlan province; five militants and two security forces killed 4-5 April. At least 45 IS loyalists reported killed in Nangarhar province by Afghan National Security Forces and U.S. drone strike 5-6 April. Dozens killed in other attacks during month, including twelve army recruits killed in 11 April suicide attack in Jalalabad; at least seven killed in suicide attacks in Parwan and Kandahar provinces 5-6 April. U.S. 29 April released report detailing events of 2015 Kunduz hospital bombing.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
MPs 9 March approved resolution for parliament to act as “Constitutional Assembly” tasked with drafting new constitution. President Sirisena continued moves to strengthen hold over Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) including appointing Mahinda Amaraweera as UPFA Sec Gen 8 March. Despite Sirisena’s threats to suspend MPs attending opposition events from party, rally by “joint opposition” with former president Rajapaksa and over 40 SLFP MPs 17 March in Colombo drew large crowds. During speech in Washington FM Samaraweera 25 Feb said govt willing to consider participation of international actors implementing UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution, while former Army Commander and Regional Development Minister Sarath Fonseka 10 March endorsed international participation in war crimes investigation; however, Sirisena 18 March again rejected involvement by foreign judges. UNHCHR 10 March said release of land held by military, reviewing cases of security detainees and resolving disappearances must accelerate. Sirisena 14 March presented deeds for additional 700 military-occupied acres of land to owners in Valikamam North division of Jaffna peninsula. Three-week hunger strike by fourteen Tamil detainees held under Prevention of Terrorism Act ended 11 March after Attorney General Dept officials assured them that magistrate’s court would file charges soon. Amid growing economic pressure, Central Bank governor 17 March confirmed govt in negotiations with IMF for $1.5bn loan.

Pakistan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Deteriorated
Over 70 people killed and at least 300 injured in suicide bomb attack on park in Lahore 27 March; victims included many families celebrating Easter. Attack claimed by Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) which said it was targeting Christians. Amid criticism of inadequate security, PM Sharif called for better coordination on part of security services against terrorism; military and intelligence agencies conducted raids following attacks, killing five suspects and arresting more than 600. Violent protests against execution of Mumtaz Qadri, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer’s murderer, in Islamabad, with thousands of Islamist activists besieging parliament and destroying public property, ended 30 March with govt reportedly agreeing not to amend blasphemy law, to show no leniency to those imprisoned on blasphemy charges, and to release non-violent demonstrators. At least 31 killed in insurgent attacks throughout month, including in Peshawar, Mohmand Agency and Sibi districts. Dozens of suspected insurgents also killed by security forces during month, including in N Waziristan, Karachi, Punjab and Balochistan. Security forces 10 March reportedly arrested fourteen members of Afghan Taliban near Quetta. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar 2 March ordered investigation into allegations that Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party received Indian funding and weapons; former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal next day accused MQM party leader of ties with Indian intelligence. Supreme Court 11 March rejected request by paramilitary Rangers to establish separate police structure and one year extension of special policing powers in Sindh province.

Nepal

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Constitution-related negotiations between mainstream and Madhesi parties remained stalled, no progress on disputes on state boundaries. In coalition of Madhesi parties, disagreements continued over strategy and form of further protests; public confidence in parties eroded in Tarai region. Supplies of petrol in Kathmandu normalised mid-March; shortages of diesel and cooking gas continued. Former PM Sher Bahadur Deuba elected new Nepali Congress president 7 March, triggering discussions on possible change of govt. PM KP Oli continued regional diplomatic efforts, visiting Beijing 20-27 March, signing bilateral transit transport agreement 21 March granting Nepal access to China’s ports; visit an effort to counterbalance trade dependence on India. Nepal Army announced former Maoist combatants integrated into its forces to be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions beginning July 2016; 85 of 1,420 ex-Maoist combatants to participate initially. Post-earthquake reconstruction efforts remain delayed due to political disputes, lack of policy framework or feasibility studies by National Reconstruction Authority (NRA); NRA CEO under investigation for alleged corruption in previous role as head of national Town Development Fund.

Kashmir

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Pakistani investigation team 27 March arrived in India to investigate 2 Jan militant attack on Indian airbase in Pathankot in Punjab near Pakistani border killing seven Indian soldiers; followed Indian FM’s 17 March announcement during South Asian Associated for Regional Cooperation Council of Ministers meeting of agreement with Pakistan Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz that Pakistan would send investigation team. Indian defence minister 1 March accused Pakistani non-state actors of responsibility for attack, said “no non-state actor from there [Pakistan] can function smoothly without the state’s support”. Pakistan interior minister 8 March confirmed his govt had informed Indian authorities of ten suspicious men crossing border from Pakistan 3 March; Indian security forces reportedly killed three of them. Pakistan officials summoned Indian ambassador 25 March protesting illegal entry of suspected Indian spy captured in Baluchistan province 24 March. Clashes between Indian soldiers and rebels continued including two suspected rebels killed in gun battle NW of Srinagar 18 March. Indian army 3 March said three suspected Kashmiri rebels killed during gun battle in Tral; hundreds of residents shouting pro-freedom slogans attempted to reach site of clash, police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
First round of local elections 22 March saw at least eleven killed and over 500 reported injured in election-related violence, reportedly including by Awami League (AL) supporters who, fearing local party losses, attacked police taking ballot boxes; opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) contested local polls despite alleging widespread rigging ahead of vote. BNP leader Khaleda Zia and son Tarique Rahman won chair and senior vice-chair positions respectively in uncontested BNP internal elections 7 March. At 19 March triennial national council meeting between BNP leaders to discuss reforms and elect council, Zia pledged BNP would, if voted to office, introduce “new govt model” for better balance of power between PM, cabinet, and parliament; called for transparency in appointments to constitutional bodies. Ahead of meeting, party leaders considered revising party manifesto to explicitly reject “extremism and religious militancy”, in apparent bid to counter criticism of having turned a blind eye while in govt. Court 30 March issued arrest warrant for Zia and 27 other BNP officials over role in instigating firebomb attack during opposition blockade Jan 2015; court 10 March cleared BNP acting Sec Gen and 25 other members of BNP-led 20-party alliance of arson charges over alleged election-related violence in Jan 2014. Shia doctor hacked to death in Jhenaidah district of Khulna Division 15 March, Christian man stabbed to death north of Dhaka 22 March; Islamic State reportedly claimed both attacks. Raids on suspected Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) cells continued, including paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion’s arrest of five alleged JMB members 13 March in Dhaka. Supreme Court 8 March upheld International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) death penalty for senior Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) member Mir Quasem Ali, believed to be party’s main financier. ICT 15 March issued death warrant for JeI chief Motiur Rahman Nizami.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Taliban 5 March announced it would not participate in direct talks with govt until all preconditions have been met, including foreign troop withdrawal, release of Taliban prisoners, removal of Taliban names from UN sanctions list. President Ghani addressing parliament next day warned Taliban must “choose whether they want peace or war”. Hizb-e-Islami insurgent group representatives 17 March met with High Peace Council, maintained demands for foreign troop withdrawal and “establishment of legitimate Islamic system”. Ghani 5 March issued long-awaited constitutional decree on electoral reform to enable release of international financial assistance urgently needed for elections to be held in Oct. Afghan and Pakistani border forces 6 March exchanged mortar and rocket fire across border in Nangarhar province. Clashes between rival Taliban factions led by Mullah Akhtar Mansour and Mullah Mohammad Rasool in Herat’s Shindbad district 10 March reportedly resulted in 100 deaths. Over a dozen security forces killed in clash with Taliban in Uruzgan province in south 29 March; two police and several insurgents reported killed in fighting in Balkh province in north 30 March; Herat provincial officials reported some 100 militants killed during security operation to regain control of Shindand district late month. Thirteen Taliban killed 23 March in Ghazni province during clash with security forces. Multiple suicide attacks included: attack near Indian consulate in Jalalabad 2 March killing two; attack in Kabul 5 March reportedly killed three people. In Helmand province, ten Taliban and three police killed in attack on govt buildings 9 March. New commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan 22 March issued formal apology for 2015 Kunduz hospital bombing. UN SRSG Nicholas Haysom 15 March warned UNSC that Afghan govt’s survival in 2016 “will be an achievement”.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

President Sirisena 4 Feb reaffirmed commitment to implement UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution, however govt position on role of foreign experts/judges remains unclear, despite visit by UNHCHR Zeid 6-9 Feb. Govt 12 Feb launched two-month consultation process on transitional justice mechanisms in Jaffna; following late Jan visit, UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice Pablo De Grieff issued statement 10 Feb urging longer consultation period and major push to build govt capacity and develop coherent strategy for implementing HRC resolution. Govt’s 16 Feb appointment of veteran and pro-devolution Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP, Sirisena’s party and part of national govt) politician Reginal Cooray as Northern Province governor widely welcomed by Tamil politicians. Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka 9 Feb appointed to fill vacant United National Party (UNP, second party in national govt) seat in parliament; decision challenged in court as he was not on UNP list at Aug elections as required by law; Fonseka made minister of regional development 25 Feb. New Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya sworn in 11 Feb amid widespread criticism of office’s reported blockage of criminal prosecutions and releases of Tamil detainees. MPs from “joint opposition” Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and United People Freedom Alliance protested in parliament 9 Feb after speaker’s refusal to allow them to sit separately from SLFP. IMF 11 Feb confirmed govt had requested additional support to cover increasingly severe balance of payments difficulties, amid rising opposition to proposed trade deal with India.

Pakistan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Continued attacks against security personnel raised concerns that extremist outfits have regrouped and operating freely; govt early Feb said terrorists being funded externally by “hostile intelligence agencies” to foment instability. Intelligence Bureau head 11 Feb said Pakistani Taliban (TTP) has ties with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) extremist groups and is coordinating with Islamic State (IS), which is growing in country; Foreign Ministry and Interior Minister denied, said IS has no organised presence in Pakistan. Army 12 Feb reported arrest of 97 suspected al-Qaeda and LeJ militants in Karachi. Attacks in Balochistan included eleven killed 6 Feb in TTP-claimed suicide bombing near military convoy in Quetta; ten members of Balochistan Liberation Army reported killed, twelve arrested 14 Feb in Sibi district raid. U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan’s Paktika province 1 Feb reportedly killed eighteen TTP militants. In Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), TTP’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility for two attacks in Mohmand Agency 18 Feb, nine tribal police killed. In other militant attacks, Awami National Party Swabi district councillor and her two children killed in Peshawar 10 Feb, TTP suspected; three police killed 10-12 Feb in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Former Afghan governor Fazlullah Wahidi kidnapped 12 Feb in Islamabad, later freed by police; policeman killed at routine checkpoint search 12 Feb. Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department 17 Feb reported seven suspected TTP and LeJ militants killed in Sheikhupura district; polio worker wounded, two police killed same day in two attacks in Lahore. Country-wide protests 29 Feb following execution of Mumtaz Qadri for 2011 murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. International Federation of Journalists reported Pakistan fourth deadliest country in world for journalists in 2015.

Nepal

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Five-month long blockade on essential supplies imposed by protesting Madhesi parties and groups along Indian border lifted 6 Feb following differences on strategy between parties comprising United Madhesi Democratic Front (UDMF) and increasing protester fatigue. Humanitarian situation eased despite fuel supplies remaining partially disrupted due to thriving black market. Govt began downsizing deployment of security forces across southern Tarai districts. Disputes regarding contentious constitutional provisions – especially key Madhesi demand related to demarcating new federal provinces – remained unresolved. Cabinet 18 Feb announced formation of political committee to discuss provincial boundaries; UDMF rejected decision, blaming lack of prior consultation on committee’s terms of reference. PM KP Oli visited New Delhi 19-23 Feb to help ease bilateral tensions following India’s criticisms of constitution-writing process and unofficial Indian support for blockade; Indian PM Modi reemphasized need for consensus and dialogue to ensure new constitution’s success. Former PM and Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala died 9 February; NC general convention to elect new party president scheduled 3-6 March.

Kashmir

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Indian home minister 3 Feb said govt would continue working with Pakistani investigation into 2 Jan attack on Pathankot air base in Indian Punjab; said Islamabad had to show “sincerity and take action against terrorists operating from its soil”. Anonymous security official 8 Feb reportedly said Pakistani investigation team found “nothing dubious” in homes, madrasas and phone records of Jaish-e-Mohammad members blamed by India for attack. Pakistan’s National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs 1 Feb urged govt to avoid “encouraging” support to Kashmiri militants. Addressing Pakistan-administered Kashmir parliament 5 Feb, PM Sharif said solution “lies in dialogue” with India. Leader of militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa warned Sharif not to “betray the Kashmiri cause”. Nine reported killed including civilians in three-day gun battle between militants and security forces in India-controlled region after gunmen 21 Feb attacked bus carrying police. Five suspected militants and two soldiers killed during gun battle 13 Feb in Kupwara near Line of Control. One killed during clashes between Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) activists 13 Feb in Kotli district of Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Authorities imposed curfew in Indian-controlled areas 15 Feb amid calls by separatist groups to protest death of teenage boy and women during demonstrations against Indian rule.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Political atmosphere remained relatively calm, however govt continued to target opposition and dissenting voices. Fifteen opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami activists sentenced 2 Feb to life imprisonment over alleged political violence in 2013; over 100 BNP leaders including acting secretary general indicted mid Feb over violence during BNP blockade early 2015. BNP 12 Feb announced it will contest local elections 22 March, and hold party national council also in March. Awami League (AL) parliamentarians and PM Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy 6 Feb urged prosecutors to try Daily Star Editor Mahfuz for treason, after he publicly apologised for publishing stories about then-opposition leader Hasina’s alleged corruption; international press freedom organisations called on govt to end Mahfuz’s harassment. Editor of pro-BNP newspaper arrested in bomb blast case. Suspected Islamist militants 21 Feb fatally stabbed Hindu priest near Panchagarh; Islamic State claimed responsibility, however police said militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) behind attack, arrested four. Police launched several raids on suspected extremist hideouts, recovering large amounts of weapons and explosives. International Crimes Tribunal 2 Feb sentenced two to death for alleged crimes during 1971 independence war. Relations with Pakistan deteriorated further; Pakistan embassy official detained for several hours 1 Feb for “suspicious movement”; Pakistan responded by detaining Bangladeshi embassy official for same amount of time; ambassadors to both countries were summoned by foreign ministries following incident.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Deteriorated

Fighting continued to worsen ahead of proposed talks between govt and Taliban early March. Officials 20 Feb reported Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) pulled out of Helmand’s Musa Qala district after dozens of police and soldiers were killed across province mid-month. Several police killed in heavy fighting in Sangin district 14 Feb. Badakhshan provincial governor 18 Feb reported Jurm and Yamgan districts completely under Taliban control. MPs from Baghlan province 3 Feb said Sept 2015 deal between Dand-e-Ghori regional govt and Taliban led to increased insecurity in N Afghanistan and Baghlan. CEO Abdullah 5 Feb said continued NATO troop support for ANSF essential. U.S. National Intelligence Director 10 Feb warned Afghanistan at “serious risk of political breakdown” in 2016; UN 14 Feb reported 2015 saw highest number of civilian casualties recorded since 2009. Taliban splinter group 6 Feb released video calling new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour puppet of Pakistani intelligence agency, declared nationwide military campaign against Mansour. Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and U.S. met in Islamabad 6 Feb, discussed Afghan peace process; Afghan officials 23 Feb said govt expects to meet with Taliban early March. At least 26 people killed in two separate suicide bombings 27 Feb in Kumar province and Kabul; Taliban claimed responsibility for Kabul attack. Five ICRC staff kidnapped 16 Feb in Ghazni province, released three days later. President Ghani 9 Feb approved mass media law seeking to promote freedom of speech, but prohibiting content contrary to Islam, offensive to other religions, or defamatory.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

In interviews with BBC 21 Jan and Al Jazeera 29 Jan, President Sirisena rejected participation of foreign judges in special war crimes court due to be established under terms of 2015 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution. Sirisena also appeared to rule out other forms of international involvement agreed to at HRC; 28 Jan parliamentary statement by PM Wickremesinghe maintained possible role for foreign lawyers and other experts. Govt 9 Jan presented resolution to parliament to inaugurate process of drafting new constitution, abolish executive presidency, introduce new electoral system, expand provincial powers. Opposition issued several procedural objections; session to resolve disagreements failed 12 Jan, further discussions postponed until Feb. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader Sumanthiran 26 Jan demanded devolution of power in new constitution. Sirisena 20 Jan reiterated Dec pledge of returning all people displaced by conflict in north and east by mid-2016. PM 15 Jan promised further 4,000 acres to be released for resettlement, efforts to release more Tamil prisoners held under Prevention of Terrorism Act, which he said would be repealed and replaced with new legislation. UK minister for Asia called on govt to finalise transitional justice mechanisms during 14-16 Jan visit. Sri Lanka-EU meetings in Colombo 18-21 Jan, discussed renewal of GSP+ trade preferences. Police 30 Jan arrested Yoshitha Rajapaksa, son of former president, and four others, on money laundering and fraud charges with respect to private TV station established under Rajapaksa govt. Gnanasara Thera, leader of Buddhist militant group Bodu Bala Sena, arrested 26 Jan on contempt of court and other charges following disruption of court proceedings 25 Jan; crowds led by monks protesting Gnanasara’s arrest dispersed by army and police.

Pakistan

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Deadly attack on Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPK)’s Charsadda district 20 Jan killed at least twenty including fourteen students, faculty member, librarian, two security guards, driver. Four attackers killed in clashes with security forces; Pakistani Taliban (TTP) denied involvement, however TTP faction commander Umar Mansoor, alleged by some to have masterminded Dec 2014 Peshawar school attack, claimed credit, his group threatened further attacks on schools. Five arrested 23 Jan charged with aiding militants. Dozens killed in terrorist attacks during month, including eleven killed by suicide bomber at market near police checkpoint in Peshawar 19 Jan. Anti-terrorism court 11 Jan issued arrest warrants for Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Hussain and twenty others for “criminal conspiracy against the state” over their criticisms of paramilitary Rangers’ activities in Karachi. Violence continued in Balochistan, several security personnel killed in attacks. Seventeen killed including twelve police in suicide attack outside polio vaccination centre in Quetta 13 Jan; TTP and Jundullah both claimed responsibility. Punjab law minister 3 Jan announced 42 arrested for alleged Islamic State (IS) links. Nearly 80 militants reportedly surrendered to govt forces in N Waziristan region 15 Jan. Reviewing implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism, interior minister 30 Dec said govt efforts had significantly improved security, conceded banned extremist groups re-emerging under new name; acknowledged limited progress on reforming status of FATA, finding solutions to Afghan refugee presence, strengthening criminal justice system.

Nepal

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Protests against new constitution by Madhesi groups continued into fifth month despite differences among agitating four-party United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) on intensifying or scaling back blockade on essential supplies along southern Tarai belt in light of increasing humanitarian toll. Talks continued between mainstream parties and UDMF with latter expressing willingness to agree on three-month framework to resolve constitutional disputes. Rapprochement undermined 21 Jan after three Madhesi protestors killed and nine injured in police firing in Morang district following clashes between UDMF cadres and ruling party UML’s youth wing; 57 total protest-related deaths since demonstrations began Aug 2015. Trust deficit widened after 23 Jan adoption of two constitutional amendments related to constituency delineation and proportional representation of historically marginalised groups; UDMF boycotted parliamentary deliberations, rejected amendments for not redrawing highly contested provincial boundaries in new federal state structure, criticised mainstream parties for unilaterally passing amendments while dialogue still unresolved; announced new phase of protests targeting capital to increase pressure on govt. Post-earthquake reconstruction still stalled despite National Reconstruction Authority 13 Jan unveiling three-month action plan. UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited Kathmandu 7-8 Jan, expressed concern over economy, humanitarian situation, reconstruction efforts.

Kashmir

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Less than a week after Indian PM Modi paid surprise visit to Pakistani PM Sharif, militants 2 Jan attacked Indian airbase in Pthankot in Punjab near Pakistan border, killing seven soldiers; five attackers reported killed. Indian authorities said evidence suggests Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad behind attack, although Kashmiri United Jihad Council claimed responsibility 4 Jan. Pakistani govt 13 Jan announced several Jaish-e-Mohammad members arrested in Punjab suspected of involvement in attack, including founder Maulana Azhar; Jaish-e-Mohammad denied Azhar had been arrested. Indian officials 18 Jan announced laser fences to be established across 40 “vulnerable” stretches along border. FM-level talks arranged for 15 Jan postponed to “near future” following 2 Jan attack. Pro-independence demonstrators and Indian security forces clashed in Srinagar 20 Jan; one civilian killed, prompting further demonstrations 22 Jan.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

On second anniversary of controversial 2014 elections 5 Jan, both ruling Awami League (AL) party and opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) staged large rallies, notably without violent clashes. BNP party leaders reportedly claimed party will concentrate on reorganisation. BNP contested local polls in 234 municipalities 30 Dec, securing 21 seats; AL won 179 seats amid allegations of widespread rigging. Around 50 candidates boycotted elections, another 36 pulled out on election day due to alleged rigging. Journalists covering polls clashed with ruling party activists, at least fifteen injured, numerous others threatened. AL hailed elections as “free and fair”, BNP criticised process but decided against staging protests. Court 25 Jan ordered BNP party leader Khaleda Zia to appear in court in March over sedition charges. Supreme Court 6 Jan upheld death sentence for Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizmi, convicted for 1971 war crimes. Govt 12 Jan issued review petition to Supreme Court seeking death penalty for top Jamaat-e-Islami member Delwar Hossain Sayedee, also charged with 1971 war crimes. Court 18 Jan jailed five militants from banned Islamist group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) over 2005 bombings. Deterioration in relations with Pakistan which began following Pakistani criticisms of Nov 2015 executions of two opposition leaders sentenced by International Crimes Tribunal continued; Pakistani govt 5 Jan demanded withdrawal of Bangladeshi senior diplomat from high commission in Islamabad. Islamic State (IS) reportedly claimed responsibility for murder of Christian convert in Jhenaidah 7 Jan.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Afghan, Pakistani, U.S., Chinese delegates met in Islamabad 11 Jan and Kabul 18 Jan to discuss mechanisms for reviving talks with Taliban, following late Dec meeting between President Ghani and Pakistani army chief. CEO Abdullah’s deputy spokesman said Pakistani officials had pledged to provide Kabul with list of Taliban leaders willing to negotiate, and that Islamabad had agreed to cut off financial support to Taliban. Nangarhar governor 12 Jan said twelve-member Taliban group joined govt-initiated peace process in his province. Independent Election Commission 18 Jan announced long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections to be held 15 Oct; CEO Abdullah’s deputy spokesman called decision illegitimate. Rival Taliban factions reportedly agreed to end violent infighting 1 Jan. Insurgents continued to made gains in south and north, as heavy fighting continued in Helmand, Takhar and elsewhere. Unidentified gunmen 4 Jan attacked Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province; three insurgents and one police killed. One U.S. soldier killed by Taliban in Marjah, Helmand 5 Jan; U.S. conducted airstrikes in area 6 Jan. Seven journalists killed in Taliban suicide car bomb attack in Kabul 20 Jan. Helmand police chief claimed around 120 Taliban insurgents killed 4-6 Jan in Marjah. Taliban and Islamic State (IS) clashed in Batikot and Chaparhar of Nangarhar province early Jan, dozens killed. Suicide attack on Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad 13 Jan killed seven police, IS claimed responsibility. U.S. 21 Jan said military authorised to target IS in Afghanistan. Security officials 2 Jan reported ten-day operation against IS in Nangarhar killed 150 fighters. Suicide bomber 17 Jan killed at least thirteen at home of tribal elder in Jalalabad.

Sri Lanka

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Govt’s first budget passed 3 Dec with over two-thirds majority; addressed some serious fiscal and economic challenges, but widely perceived as transitional step toward deeper reforms. Responding to public pressure, govt 18 Dec agreed to withdraw legislation criminalising hate speech; civil society groups and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) objected to adoption of language resembling that of Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), used to imprison dissidents. Govt 17 Dec announced establishment of new secretariat for coordinating development of various “reconciliation mechanisms”, including missing persons office and “truth, reconciliation and prevention of conflicts commission”. Sri Lanka 10 Dec signed international convention on disappearances. Presidential commission on missing persons resumed public hearings in Jaffna mid Dec, amid new protests by affected families. Despite repeated promises and renewed hunger strikes by prisoners, no further releases of the more than 200 detainees held under PTA. Officials denied new allegations by Tamil politicians and activists of secret detention camps. Failure to release more military-occupied land has also fuelled discontent among Tamils in north; govt officials reiterated FM’s 3 Dec pledge that further 6,000 acres would be released for resettlement, but without date/location. 19 Dec formation of “Tamil People’s Council”, composed of civil society and political party leaders and co-chaired by Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, seen as having potential to pose strong challenge to TNA.

Pakistan

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Four men hanged 2 Dec for involvement in Dec 2014 Peshawar school attack, first executions in connection to attack. Attacks in FATA included: at least 23 suspected militants killed 15 Dec in airstrikes in Khyber Agency; bomb targeting Shias in Parachinar 13 Dec killed at least 22, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and S Waziristan-based Ansar ul Mujahidin both claimed responsibility. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) police 12 Dec reportedly arrested over 500 for suspected terrorism links. At least 22 killed in suicide bomb in KPK’s Mardan 29 Dec; Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul Ahrar claimed responsibility. Sindh’s civil-military provincial apex committee 2 Dec announced creation of 30 anti-terrorism courts and hiring of 8,000 police and twenty prosecutors to support Karachi operation. Sindh assembly 16 Dec extended Rangers’ policing powers in Karachi, though with conditions and limitations following intense criticism of Rangers’ methods and overreach. Police 1 Dec killed four suspected militants in raid targeting al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent in S Punjab; 11 Dec killed five suspected LeJ members in Lahore. Nine suspected militants with alleged ties to Islamic State (IS) arrested in Punjab 28 Dec. Attacks on journalists continued, including grenade attacks on television network offices in Lahore 1 Dec injuring four, and 7 Dec attack in Punjab’s Sargodha district. Lahore High Court 9 Dec acquitted Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan’s (SSP) Qari Muhammad Yousaf, overturning May 2015 sentence by anti-terrorism court. Balochistan govt 7 Dec extended paramilitary Corps’ policing powers; continuing violence in province included: gunmen 8 Dec killed two National Party members in Khuzdar district; security forces 14 Dec killed at least thirteen suspected militants in Awaran district. Pakistan military 11 Dec test-fired intermediate range nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

Nepal

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Protests against new constitution by Madhesi groups, disruption of imports across Indian border, and clashes between demonstrators and police continued along southern plains. Protesters 16 Dec attacked President Bidya Bhandari’s motorcade in Dhanusha district. One protester killed in police firing 20 Dec in Rautahat district; at least 50 protest-related deaths since Aug. Veteran Madhesi leader Rajendra Mahato injured in 26 Dec clash with police. Madhesi leaders 5 Dec met Indian FM Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, urged India to play diplomatic role in resolving crisis. Coalition of Madhesi parties criticised Constitution Amendment Bill tabled 15 Dec for not addressing demands regarding citizenship, proportional inclusion in state bodies, and redrawing of provincial boundaries; intensified protests beginning 18 Dec; rejected Govt’s 20 Dec “ambiguous” three-point roadmap that included formation of political committee to resolve state restructuring dispute despite Indian Foreign Ministry welcoming govt decision. Amid ongoing criticism of UML-led govt over deteriorating humanitarian situation following April/May earthquakes, eight displaced people living in temporary shelters died as temperatures dropped throughout Dec; Reconstruction Authority Bill passed 16 Dec to expedite reconstruction work. Ruling-coalition member UCPN (Maoist) reportedly dissatisfied with PM Oli’s 24 Dec cabinet expansion.

Kashmir

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Indian and Pakistani national security advisers met in Bangkok 6 Dec, discussed peace and security, terrorism, Kashmir, Line of Control (LoC). Indian FM Sushma Swaraj 8-9 Dec attended conference in Islamabad in first visit by Indian diplomat to Pakistan in three years; issued joint statement saying both countries “condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it”, agreed to “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue”. Indian PM Modi paid surprise visit to Pakistan PM Sharif’s Lahore residence via Kabul 25 Dec, first by an Indian leader in almost twelve years; agreed to foreign secretaries meeting mid Jan. Pakistan defence secretary Alam Khattak 4 Dec told Senate’s standing committing on defence India had violated ceasefire 247 times since PM Modi’s election in May 2014: 163 along LoC and 84 along Working Boundary; resulted in at least 39 Pakistani civilians killed, 150 wounded. One civilian and six Indian security officials injured in terrorist attack on Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy 7 Dec in Anantnag district; two militants killed 8 Dec in clashes with police and CRPF in Pulwama district; Indian army reportedly prevented infiltration attempt 4 Dec in Poonch district, three guerrillas killed. Indian security forces 4 Dec launched anti-militancy operation in Kupwara district, two militants and soldier killed.

Bangladesh

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Govt continued clampdown on dissent, including with ban on several social media sites. During Facebook ban police arrested three for making “derogatory” remarks against govt; ban lifted 10 Dec, paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion same day arrested administrator of satirical Facebook page Refayet Ahmed for “campaigning against the government and state”, released four days later. Further signs of rising extremism, with two temples in northern district Dinajpur attacked 5 and 10 Dec; former attack involved timed bomb, two shot dead in latter. At least six including three naval officers wounded following two explosions at two mosques at Chittagong naval base 18 Dec; two men arrested. Alleged Islamist extremist Jamaat-ul-Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) member 8 Dec admitted Oct killing of Japanese national; another JMB member reportedly admitted to Nov attack on Italian priest. Security Forces arrested seven suspected JMB militants in Dhaka 24 Dec; 28 Dec killed two alleged JMB militants in raid outside Dhaka. Police 15 Dec attributed recent attacks including on foreigners and Hindu temples to JMB, claimed no evidence of Islamic State (IS) link despite IS public claims of responsibility. Calls 16 Decby several civil society organisations for Bangladesh to cut bilateral ties after Pakistan dismissed claims of genocide during 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Dhaka-based Pakistani diplomat withdrawn 23 Dec after local media reported links to detained JMB operative; Pakistan said charges “baseless”.

Afghanistan

  |  4 Jan 2016

Deteriorated

Fighting raged between govt forces and Taliban in Helmand province. Deputy governor of Helmand 20 Dec said province “on the brink” of Taliban takeover; also reported Taliban had taken control of Sangin district. UK 22 Dec announced deployment of troops to Helmand in advisory role, U.S. 23 Dec launched airstrikes in Sangin district. Taliban 8-9 Dec attacked airport and military base in Kandahar, leaving over 40 killed; 11-12 Dec attacked Spanish embassy guesthouse, killing two Spanish security officials, four police. Six U.S. troops killed by suicide bomber near Bagram air base 21 Dec; three rockets hit govt area of Kabul same day. New Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour reportedly wounded in argument with rival commanders in Quetta, Pakistan 2 Dec; Taliban denied, released audio message reportedly of Mansour 5 Dec. Clashes reported between Taliban factions in Shindand district 8 Dec, at least 54 reported killed. Senior U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell 15 Dec warned of Islamic State activity in Jalalabad, Nangarhar; Attending “Heart of Asia” conference in Islamabad 8-9 Dec, President Ghani appealed to neighbours to help contain terrorism. Meeting in Paris 1 Dec, Ghani and Pakistani PM Sharif agreed to resume talks with Taliban. National Directorate of Security chief resigned 10 Dec over disagreement with Ghani on forging closer ties with Pakistan. Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif held talks in Kabul on ways to revive talks with Taliban 27 Dec. One killed, thirteen wounded in Kabul suicide attack 28 Dec. Ghani pledged to hold parliamentary and district council elections in 2016. First new opposition party in fourteen years “Council of Protection and Stability in Afghanistan” formed 18 Dec.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Cabinet 18 Nov approved paper calling for abolition of executive presidency and new electoral laws, key elements of Sirisena’s original reform agenda. Followed 12 Nov state funeral of revered Buddhist monk, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, who helped lead civil society movement to defeat President Rajapaksa. Doubts about govt’s “good governance” credentials and commitment to pursue criminal prosecutions for corruption and abuse of power by former regime heightened after parliamentary debate 5 Nov in which Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana defended operations of company with contract to use leased govt weapons for anti-piracy operations and currently under police investigation. Marapana previously acted as company’s lawyer earlier in 2015; resigned 10 Nov following public outcry over conflict of interest. Tamil political parties and activists in north and east organised general strike 13 Nov against continued detention of prisoners under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and demanding PTA’s repeal; 38 prisoners eventually released over month; govt promised further releases by mid-Dec, non-committal on repeal. Govt 22 Nov revoked March 2014 ban on eight diaspora organisations and over 260 people for alleged links with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). UN working group on enforced and involuntary disappearances visited 9-18 Nov, verified at least one secret, unauthorised place of detention, where detainees appear to have been tortured; called on govt to address legacy of tens of thousands of disappearances, with urgent reforms including key points agreed to in Sept UN HRC consensus resolution. Foreign ministry 28 Oct held consultation with civil society groups on how to structure island-wide consultation process on transitional justice reforms agreed at Human Rights Council. Finance minister presented budget to parliament 20 Nov including policies to promote reforms outlined in 5 Nov Economic Policy Statement designed to reduce budget deficits and restructure economy toward exports with added value; budget continues annual post-war increases in military expenditures.

Pakistan

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Military claimed airstrikes killed twenty militants in Tirah and Rajgal areas of Khyber agency 7 Nov, and 22 in N Waziristan’s Shawal valley 14 Nov. Despite claims of military successes, several killed in continued attacks on security personnel. Journalist and member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Zaman Mehsud killed 3 Nov in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)’s Tank district; Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility. Signs of civil-military tensions after military warned that insufficient progress on implementation of anti-terrorism National Action Plan could undermine operations against extremist groups. All-parties conference in Islamabad 2 Nov backed proposal for constitutional amendment to merge FATA with KPK, thus extending full political and other constitutional rights to tribal belt; PM Sharif instead formed five-member committee 9 Nov to examine FATA reform options, widely seen as military-devised attempt to delay debate and passage of proposed constitutional amendment; FATA-political parties alliance participants 16 Nov staged demonstration calling for merger. National Assembly 14 Nov passed Pakistan Army (amendment) bill, granting armed forces, civil armed forces and law enforcement agencies legal cover for arrests and detentions, and allowing military courts to conceal identity of “persons concerned with court proceedings”. Separatist Baloch Republic Army leader issued statement 15 Nov requesting Baloch leaders to develop unified stance, including on possible negotiations with state conditional on military ending operations in Balochistan. Several killed in continued militant violence, including three people killed in bomb attack on train in Mastung district 1 Nov. Army Chief Sharif visited Washington DC mid-Nov for meetings with military and intelligence counterparts and VP.

Nepal

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated

Political crisis intensified as protests by Madhesi groups over constitutional provisions continued across southern Tarai plains, surpassing 100 days since start of agitation. Vehicular movement across Indian border remained disrupted; ensuing fuel shortage exacerbated by reported distribution irregularities by national oil company. Deputy PM Kamal Thapa 4 Nov spoke at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on disruption of supplies by India; Indian delegation expressed concern over lack of political progress and protest-related violence. Four protestors killed in police firing 22 Nov in southern district Saptari, bringing total protest-related deaths since Aug to 49. Demonstrators 14 Nov vandalised ruling party UML’s Parsa district office in Tarai, 20 Nov vandalised ambulance and vehicle carrying medical supplies in Parsa and Morang districts; agitating Madhes-based parties’ rally in Itahari district disrupted by local students 27 Nov. Defence Minister Bhim Rawal 28 Nov claimed Nepal Army could be deployed in Tarai. 18 Nov talks between govt and coalition of Madhes-based parties ended inconclusively; Madhesi parties demand package deal including amendments to new provincial boundaries to ensure demographic majority. Ruling UCPN (Maoist) in discussions with former vice-chairman Mohan Baidya regarding reunification. Hardline CPN Maoist called nationwide strike 29 Nov protesting unofficial Indian blockade.

Kashmir

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Firing from Pakistan-administered Kashmir reportedly killed two Indian soldiers 2 Nov. Pakistan’s foreign ministry representative 4 Nov told Senate that Indian firing across LoC had killed 87 Pakistani civilians and injured 407 since Jan 2010. Indian colonel killed by suspected militants in clash in N Kashmir 17 Nov; four suspected militants and one soldier killed in three separate clashes 23 Nov; three militants killed in attack on army base in Tangdhar 25 Nov, one civilian also killed; militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad claimed responsibility for attack. Army 24 Nov said at least 60 militants active in N Kashmir. Pakistani foreign office spokesperson 5 Nov criticised Indian govt for arresting 389 Kashmiri separatists ahead of visit by PM Modi to Srinagar.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated

Crackdown on opposition continued, with leaders Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid (secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami) and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (former Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) member) executed 22 Nov, both convicted by International Crimes Tribunal of committing war crimes during 1971 war of independence. Supreme Court 17 Nov had rejected final appeals against death sentences, govt increased security across country, tensions high amid concerns about Islamist backlash. BNP acting Secretary General Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir again taken into custody 3 Nov, with 89 charges pending against him; arrest warrants issued for three BNP leaders in cases related to political violence same day. Gunmen shot and seriously injured Italian pastor and physician in Dinajpur district 18 Nov; Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, heightening concerns about foreigners’ safety. Security personnel also targeted; one police killed, four injured by gunmen outside capital 4 Nov. One dead and three wounded following attack on mosque in Bogra district 26 Nov; IS claimed responsibility. Govt continues to deny IS presence in Bangladesh. Following late Oct deadly extremist attack on publishers, two prominent writers/scholars received death threats during month.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

As Taliban infighting continued over opposition among many high-ranking members to Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour as new leader, prominent commanders 2 Nov created new faction headed by Mullah Mohammed Rasool Akhund, representing first formal split in movement. Clashes between rival factions broke out in Zabul province early Nov, killing 100 from both sides. Mansour 24 Nov appointed new head of Taliban political office in Qatar. President Ghani and Pakistani PM Sharif met in Paris 30 Nov to discuss ways to revive peace talks with Taliban, improve relations. Amid ongoing fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban, Badakhshan provincial official 18 Nov reported Taliban insurgents attacked and took control of parts of Yamgan district. 88 killed in fighting between Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and Taliban in Sangin district, Nangarhar 14 Nov; at least 65 ANA soldiers reportedly surrendered and defected to Taliban. Two Afghan soldiers and a foreign national killed, eighteen captured by Taliban following helicopter crash in Faryab province 24 Nov. Kunduz military commander 16 Nov said Afghan forces had made major gains against insurgents in Dasht-e-Archi district. Nangarhar province officials 5 Nov claimed at least 26 IS fighters killed during Afghan/U.S. military operation in Achin district. Ethnic Hazara protests reportedly numbering some 10,000 broke out in Kabul and other cities demanding justice and improved security following beheadings by Islamist militants 8 Nov of seven Hazara hostages in Jaghori district including three women and a nine-year-old girl. Unidentified gunmen 21 Nov kidnapped fourteen bus passengers, reportedly Hazaras. U.S. military inquiry 25 Nov determined “human error” behind 3 Oct airstrike on Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, with hospital mistaken for nearby Taliban-held govt building; MSF said investigation needed. NGO Democracy Watch Afghanistan 2 Nov warned against splitting election commission between loyalists of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah; also warned delays in parliamentary elections would undermine stability.

Sri Lanka

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

UNHRC 1 Oct passed landmark resolution on accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka; resolution commits govt to ambitious agenda of transitional justice and political reforms, including establishment of truth and reconciliation commission, offices on missing persons and reparations, range of legal reforms addressing impunity for rights violations and, most controversially, establishment of special court to prosecute alleged international crimes. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) welcomed HRC resolution, though other Tamil activists and civil society groups more critical of lack of stronger international role in promised transitional justice mechanisms. Former President Rajapaksa and other Sinhala nationalist politicians strongly critical of HRC resolution. Parliament 22-23 Oct debated OHCHR war crimes report and reports from two govt commissions that found serious human rights violations but defended legality of military strategy during war. Investigations continued into numerous cases of alleged corruption and other crimes under Rajapaksa regime; former LTTE commander and former eastern province chief minister S. Chandrakanthan (aka “Pillayan”) arrested 11 Oct for involvement in 2005 murder of TNA MP; attorney general 7 Oct indicted former secretary to president Lalith Weeratunga and several colleagues for misuse of public funds; new information about govt death squads emerged through investigations into 2009 abduction and presumed murder of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda. Jaffna district judge 6 Oct convicted four soldiers of 2011 rape of two Tamil women. Tamil detainees held under anti-terrorism laws 17 Oct called off five-day hunger strike after govt promises to expedite cases and release those without charge.

Pakistan

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Bomb blast killed two security personnel in FATA’s Mohmand agency 3 Oct; head of anti-Taliban militia killed in roadside bomb in Bannu district, adjacent to N Waziristan, next day. Several killed in ongoing attacks and clashes in Balochistan, including eleven people killed 19 Oct in bomb blast in bus in provincial capital Quetta, at least ten killed in suicide bombing at Shiite mosque in Bhaag 22 Oct. Sixteen killed in suicide attack in Jacobabad district 23 Oct during Muharram procession, despite additional security across country ahead of Muharram (first month of Islamic calendar). Interior ministry 6 Oct reported 588 people killed and 10,007 injured in 821 terrorist attacks Jan-Aug 2015. Seven killed in bomb blast in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MP’s office in Punjab’s Dera Ghazi Khan district 14 Oct. U.S. and Pakistan 22 Oct released joint statement concluding PM Sharif’s visit to Washington D.C., reaffirming “mutual commitment to democracy”, amid continued U.S. concerns about Pakistani support to Afghanistan and India-oriented jihadi proxies. Govt appointed newly retired Lieutenant General Naseer Khan Janjua national security advisor 23 Oct. Amid ongoing Rangers crackdown against its workers in Karachi, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) 9 Oct retracted resignations of its parliamentarians, ending two-month boycott, after senior party leaders and federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar agreed to formation of “Grievances Redressal Committee”; MQM leader in exile Altaf Hussain objected to party’s return to parliament. Earthquake near border in northern Afghanistan killed at least 267 in Pakistan, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Nepal

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

K.P. Oli, head of the UML, elected PM 11 Oct following resignation of Sushil Koirala; UML leader Bidya Bhandari elected country’s first female president 28 Oct. Protests across southern Tarai plains by Madhesi and Tharu groups against new constitution entered third month; 16 Oct Human Rights Watch report called for investigations into killings during constitution-related protests. Obstructions at major Indian-border customs checkpoints continued, causing acute fuel shortage and increasing accusations of an unofficial Indian trade embargo. Following informal talks, formal dialogue between govt and Madhes-based parties began 25 Oct; govt agreed to some demands including compensating families of those killed in protests and withdrawing security forces from Tarai districts. Differences persist on federalism; Madhesi parties, seeking to preserve demographic advantage, demand two provinces across Tarai instead of six as currently agreed to among three main parties; govt favour letting future Federal Commission decide province demarcation. New Deputy PM Kamal Thapa met Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi 18 Oct to discuss border situation; Swaraj urged govt to pursue dialogue with dissenting groups. Nepal Oil Corporation reached agreement on petroleum imports 28 Oct with PetroChina to ease fuel scarcity, ending four-decade Indian petroleum monopoly.

Kashmir

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Indian FM Sushma Swaraj 1 Oct rejected four-point peace plan presented by Pakistani PM Sharif to UNGA previous day, said Pakistan must give up terrorism, called for revival of dialogue. Pakistan ambassador to UN 2 Oct accused India of committing human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir and sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. Indian police reported high-ranking member of Lashkar-e-Taiba Abu Qasim killed in clash with security forces 29 Oct. Two Pakistani children reported killed in exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani security forces near Sialkot 26 Oct. Indian security forces clashed with Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad in Tral 4 Oct, two militants reported killed. Several killed in Indian elite counter-insurgency forces operation in Haphruda forest in Handwara 4 Oct. Several killed in clashes between military and insurgents in Pulwama district late Oct. China reportedly constructing road tunnels through Kashmir as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Bangladesh

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Publisher of secular books hacked to death and three others injured in two separate attacks in Dhaka 31 Oct, claimed by al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Islam group. Gunmen on motorcycle shot dead Japanese national in Rangpur district north of Dhaka 3 Oct, days after deadly shooting of Italian national Cesare Tavella in Dhaka 28 Sept. Islamic State reportedly claimed responsibility for murders; PM Sheikh Hasina 4 Oct denied Islamic State (IS) responsibility, blamed local BNP-Jamaat alliance; both parties strongly refuted allegations. Several key diplomatic missions issued heightened security alerts. Several suspects arrested in Tavella killing, reportedly said they were hired to carry out killing to “create chaos”. Two other attacks 5 Oct, allegedly by banned Islamist extremist Jamaat-ul-Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) also reinforced concerns of rising extremism: former govt official-turned Sufi spiritual guide murdered in his Dhaka home, and attempted murder of pastor in Pabna city. At least one person killed in blasts attacking Shiite Ashura procession in Dhaka 24 Oct; IS claimed responsibility. Several media outlets 19 Oct said they received email threats signed by Ansarullah Bangla Team warning them of “severe action” if they publish reports on murders of atheist bloggers or their beliefs. International Crimes Tribunal 1 Oct issued death warrants against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Muhammad Majid and BNP minister Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, convicted of war crimes during 1971 liberation war. Police clashed with supporters of Awami League MP Manjurul Islam Liton 15 Oct; at least twenty injured. Member of Village Defence Police killed during encounter with unidentified “terrorists” during security operation in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) 18 Oct; security officials suspect link to Myanmar’s separatist “Arakan Liberation Army”.

Afghanistan

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Taliban 13 Oct withdrew from Kunduz city amid counteroffensive by Afghan forces, U.S airstrikes and Special Forces on the ground; in two weeks following 28 Sept capture of city, Taliban reportedly destroyed govt offices and facilities, seized military hardware, attacked opponents, freed inmates from two prisons. During operations to help Afghan forces retake city, U.S. airstrike 3 Oct hit Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital, killing at least 22; MSF condemned incident as “blatant breach of international humanitarian law”, called for independent investigation. Senior U.S. commander Gen. John Campbell called attack “a mistake”, President Obama 7 Oct issued apology, promised investigation. Obama 15 Oct announced U.S. to halt withdrawal of troops, with current 9,800 remaining through most of 2016, reducing to around 5,500 by end of 2016; NATO countries including Germany, Turkey, UK and Italy announced they will also remain in Afghanistan. Gen. Campbell 30 Oct reported multi-day operation including airstrikes early month in Kandahar targeted “probably the largest” al-Qaeda training camp discovered since 2001. Head of lower house Mirdad Nejrabi 18 Oct attributed Taliban capture of Kunduz to intelligence failures, Taliban infiltration into security forces. President Ghani 3 Oct rejected call from former mujihadin leaders and political leaders for govt to provide framework for using non-state militias against Taliban. Renewed clashes between Afghan govt forces and Taliban, including in Northern provinces Baghlan, Takhar, Faryab; fighting also reported between Taliban and govt forces in Helmand’s provincial capital Lashkar Gah, and in Herat, Uruzgan and Ghazni provinces. Taliban 14 Oct claimed control of Faryab province’s Bala Baluk district, local officials denied. Border police 5 Oct reported 25 border police killed during clashes in eastern Nangarhar province, 268 Islamic State casualties. Interior Ministry 8 Oct reported over 5,600 Taliban and over 2,100 police killed in clashes during last six months. Former National Directorate of Security chief 7 Oct urged UN to investigate Taliban crimes against humanity. Earthquake hit north 26 Oct, killing around 400, mostly in Pakistan; Taliban 28 Oct reportedly took control of Darqand district in Takhar province, on border with Tajikistan.

Sri Lanka

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

OHCHR 16 Sept released report of investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, finding “horrific level of violations and abuses” 2002-2011 by govt, pro-govt groups and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and recommending hybrid special court with international investigators, prosecutors, judges and other experts plus range of legal and institutional reforms for effective investigations and prosecutions and prevention of future crimes. UN Human Rights Council (HRC) 30 Sept debated OHCHR report. In 14 Sept speech on opening day of HRC, FM Mangala Samaraweera announced plans to establish four transitional justice mechanisms: truth commission, offices on missing persons and reparations, and special court for war crimes and other human rights violations; suggested possibility of significant international involvement. Resolution tabled 24 Sept, with govt endorsement, welcomed govt plans and affirmed “importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the Special Counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers, and authorised prosecutors and investigators”. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) 25 Sept welcomed resolution as “constructive starting point”; other Tamil parties and organisations rejected it as lacking sufficient international involvement to guarantee independent judicial process. Sinhala nationalist organisations attacked resolution as undermining sovereignty. Parliament 3 Sept approved new national govt of United National Party (UNP) of PM Wickremesinghe and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) with expanded 48-member cabinet and 45 state and deputy ministers; included numerous ex-Rajapaksa ministers, some of whom face criminal charges/allegations. Parliament speaker 3 Sept appointed TNA leader R. Sampanthan as leader of the opposition. At first Constitutional Council meeting 10 Sept, speaker pledged to appoint full range of constitutionally mandated independent commissions by end-Oct; three independent civil society members formally approved by parliament 22 Sept.

 

Pakistan

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Dozens killed in attack on Peshawar’s Badaber air force base 18 Sept; Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. Authorities blamed Afghanistan for failing to prevent militant groups from using its territory to plan and launch attacks. Visiting Islamabad 30 Aug, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice urged Pakistan to take action against Haqqani Network. National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz 31 Aug told German FM that military operations in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)’s N Waziristan Agency had almost destroyed Haqqani Network, which had shifted operations to Afghanistan. Airstrikes and ground operations in N Waziristan and Khyber agency continued. Military 7 Sept announced its first armed drone strike, killing three militant leaders in Shawal. U.S. drone attacks also continued. Deadly militant attacks and clashes continued in FATA’s Bajaur Agency, Khyber agency and S Waziristan. In Balochistan, four bodies found in Kalat district 6 Sept; at least 80 extrajudicial killings reported in province this year. Balochistan home secretary 16 Sept said 8,000 suspected militants arrested and 204 alleged terrorists killed in province this year. In Karachi, gunmen 8 Sept killed technician with private Geo TV channel, and driver and key witness in April murder of rights activist Sabeen Mahmud; former Geo TV anchor shot dead next day. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) 3 Sept withdrew from negotiations with federal govt on resignations of its parliamentarians, citing failure to investigate arrests and killings of party members in Rangers-led operations.

Nepal

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Constituent Assembly 16 Sept endorsed new constitution by vote of 507-25 and formally adopted charter 20 Sept, fulfilling milestone 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement commitment. However widespread protests continued across southern Tarai region by plains-based Madhesi and Tharu groups against perceived rollbacks of past assurances of electoral provisions, affirmative action and disagreement over delin-eation of new provincial boundaries. 45 killed in protests in Tarai since early August —reportedly 35 protesters in police firing and ten police at the hands of protesters. Fol-lowing unsuccessful attempts to start dialogue, Home Ministry 22 Sept relaxed curfews, PM Sushil Koirala 23 Sept cancelled attendance of UNGA to hold talks, and govt 24 Sept agreed to recall Nepal Army soldiers deployed in southern districts as confidence-building measure. Formal negotiations between govt and Madhes-based parties began 28 Sept. Indian Ministry of External Affairs released statement 21 Sept expressing con-cern over protest-related violence in Tarai region, called on parties to defuse tensions. Movement of freight vehicles from India into protest-affected southern areas obstruct-ed following new constitution’s promulgation, resulting in fuel shortages and claims of Indian economic blockade. Former PM Baburam Bhattarai resigned from UCPN (Mao-ist) and from parliament, citing failure of new statute to address Madhesi and Tharu demands.

Kashmir

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Hostile rhetoric and deadly exchanges of fire along Line of Control (LoC) dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir continued, undercutting prospects of productive bilateral engagement. Pakistan 5 Sept called on UNSC to urge India to abide by 2003 ceasefire, accusing India of 36 violations in July and of killing twenty civilians in Aug. India and Pakistan 6 Sept exchanged heavy fire in Saujiyan and Poonch; one civilian killed. India 9 Sept accused Pakistan of injuring two soldiers in LoC cross-firing. Indian home minister 11 Sept told Pakistan Punjab Rangers director “India will not fire the first bullet towards Pakistan along the border”. During biannual meeting on border security and cooperation, directors of Pakistan Punjab Rangers and Indian Border Security Force pledged to de-escalate tensions, resolve border management issues, curb smuggling and other illegal border crossings. Soon after, Pakistan accused India of unprovoked shelling/firing killing soldier in Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu & Kashmir 14 Sept, and killing three civilians 17 Sept. Commanders of Indian and Pakistani armies 21 Sept discussed ways to lower tensions along LoC.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) 7 Sept claimed govt engaging in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, said six BNP members taken by police 22-30 Aug. National newspaper 1 Sept listed 22,000 court cases against BNP members including party leader Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman, reported around 17,000 workers and activists currently in detention. Court 17 Sept rejected Zia’s petition to quash charges of corruption during her previous tenure as PM. International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) 8 Sept tried nine more accused of war crimes during 1971 independence war, dismissed charges against three, in first such acquittals. High court 14 Sept nullified 2003 Indemnity Law, passed by then BNP-Jamaat govt; 2003 law indemnified security personnel involved in controversial Oct 2002-Jan 2003 military/police “operation clean heart” in which over 11,000 were arrested and 40 died in custody. Police 1 Sept charged five suspected militants with murder of atheist blogger Washiqur Rahman, 10 Sept arrested Ansar Bangla Team (ABT) chief over series of killings. Army and Border Guard Bangladesh late-Aug/early-Sept launched first joint operation with Myanmar armed forces against separatist insurgents operating near border.

Afghanistan

  |  1 Oct 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Taliban seized control of northern city Kunduz after launching attack 28 Sept; as fighting raged between insurgents and govt forces seeking to regain city with assistance from U.S. airstrikes and German military advisors, MPs called for resignation of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah. Govt counter-offensive drove back Taliban from Kunduz airport, where some 5,000 troops awaited reinforcements. Taliban issued statement 16 Sept claiming former leader Mullah Omar’s family had pledged allegiance to new leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour, in attempt to reduce worsening internal clashes following 29 July announcement of Mullah Omar’s death and his hasty replacement by Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Some Taliban remain opposed to Mansour’s leadership, claim Pakistan’s military intelligence agency was behind selection. Representatives of 60 donor countries attending Kabul summit 5 Sept pledged continued support for Afghanistan, conditional on key reforms ahead of planned donor meetings in Brussels and Warsaw in 2016. Members of lower house 16 Sept said Electoral Reform Commission (ERC)’s work incomplete, called for computerised identity cards to enable transparent elections. Earlier in month, security official 7 Sept said operation in central Logar province resulted in deaths of 70 Taliban, four soldiers, many civilians. Taliban reportedly attacked village in Nangarhar province 8 Sept, captured several civilians as the insurgents searched for Islamic State (IS) fighters. Local official 10 Sept said IS running three private jails in Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province, holding 127 people, including nineteen soldiers. Taliban 14 Sept attacked Ghazni city prison and freed over 400 prisoners; four police killed. At least 300 IS fighters reportedly attacked checkpoints in Nangarhar province in east 27 Sept.

Pakistan

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Supreme Court 5 Aug ruled in favour of Eighteenth and Twenty-first constitutional amendments, dismissing challenges to establishment of military courts to try suspects, including civilians, on terrorism charges; affirmed court's right to oversee military courts. In Karachi, ongoing security operation mainly targeted Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM); MQM Senator Nasreen Jalil 10 Aug said 41 party workers killed since start of operation in 2013, 150 people missing in past three months; interior minister refuted allegations. MQM members of National Assembly, Senate and Sindh provincial assembly resigned 12 Aug, calling for creation of monitoring committee to oversee security operation and judicial commission to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings of party workers and release of imprisoned members. Sindh chief minister 8 Aug extended Sindh Rangers’ policing powers by another 120 days. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for murder of judge in Rawalpindi 5 Aug. Drone strike killed five suspected militants in N Waziristan 6 Aug. Military reported 90 militants in N Waziristan and fifteen in Khyber agency died in airstrikes 16 and 17 Aug. Military launched new offensive against TTP 21 Aug. Three bodies found in Balochistan’s Turbat on 25 July, nine in Quetta and Pishin districts 10 Aug. Police killed leader of sectarian militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Malik Ishaq, two sons and over ten members 29 July; at Ishaq’s funeral violent demonstrators attacked Shia mosques and private property, two police killed in attack on police station in Gujrat. 16 Aug suicide attack killed Punjab home minister and sixteen others; attack reportedly claimed by LeJ, TTP faction Jamaat ul Ahrar and Khyber agency-based Lashkar-e-Islam.

Bangladesh

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Attacks on freedom of expression intensified, with fourth murder of secular blogger and further actions by executive and judiciary pressuring journalists and human rights activists. Secular blogger Niladri Chattopadhyay (Niloy Neel) hacked to death in Dhaka 7 Aug, fourth such killing in 2015. Ansar ul Islam, linked to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), claimed responsibility; several members of radical Islamist Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) arrested in connection with killing. Three other ABT members arrested 17 Aug in connection with killings of bloggers Avijit Roy in Feb and Ananta Bijoy Das in May. Dhaka police 2 Aug released statement accusing prominent human rights organisations Odhikar and Bangladesh Human Rights Commission of acting illegally by reporting extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by police. Police 17 Aug arrested journalist Probir Sikdar for defamation against Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain in social media (Facebook) post. High Court 5 Aug rejected opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia’s challenge to legality of 2007 graft case. Police 10 Aug arrested six BNP leaders in Savar, 31 BNP leaders and activists in Khuln, charged with subversive activities; 18 Aug arrested BNP’s chief advisor Shawkat Mahmud on arson charges. Jana Samhati Samiti (JSS) activists 15 Aug clashed with security forces in Rangmati, five JSS killed. Bangladesh and India 31 July exchanged control over 160 enclaves in historic land swap; residents previously considered stateless will be able to choose where they want to live and their citizenship.

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